Perth: Heading into the World Cup, India’s major problem area was the pace department. Pace spearhead Ishant Sharma was being carried along in the hope that he’d recover from injury. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was not match fit and Mohammad Shami was carrying a niggle.

World Cup: 9 wkts (3 matches)
Tri-series: 2 wkts (3 matches)

World Cup: 6 wkts (4 matches)
Tri-series: 2 wkts (1 match)

World Cup: 6 wkts (4 matches)
Tri-series: 2 wkts (2 matches)

Such was the state of India’s wounded pace attack less than two weeks before the Word Cup kicked off on February 14 that Mohit Sharma and Dhawal Kulkarni were made to stay back after the tri-series in case they’d need to be used as replacements. And right enough, Ishant failed the fitness test and Mohit got in.

However, once the tournament began (since India’s World Cup opener against Pakistan at Adelaide on February 15), the pacers have shown an almost miraculous transformation.

Turnaround factor
Yadav and Shami are bowling brilliantly in tandem upfront and first change Mohit is continuing the good work, ably assisted by off-spinner R Ashwin at the other end.

“Our fast bowlers have done really well. They now understand the importance of hitting that (slightly back of good) length and not trying too many different things, and that’s really paying off. It’s something you have to taste as a fast bowler, as a fast bowling unit, to start believing in it. In the sub-continent you don’t bowl a lot of overs, so whenever you get to bowl, you look for wickets and you want to bowl six different deliveries. But outside the sub-continent, on places where the Kookaburra ball is used, and if it stops swinging up for a while, you have to stick to the right length. I felt our bowlers have learnt that,” skipper MS Dhoni said after India beat West Indies at the WACA on Friday.

Dhoni, who scored a patient 56-ball 45 to take India across the Windies, heaped individual praise on his speed demons too. “Umesh is bowling quick. Shami has taken the extra responsibility of bowling with the new ball and it gives Mohit a bit more time in the middle order. He has been very consistent. Overall, the fast bowling department have bowled really well,” added Dhoni, as he went on to spell out the plan against WI batsmen.

“We wanted to use the new ball well, but at the same time we didn’t want to try too many different things because the West Indies bat in a slightly different way. If you see Chris (Gayle), he looks to give himself room. And so you have that tendency to bowl slightly up, thinking you’ll get a wicket.

“But we kept hitting the back of a length area and that made it uncomfortable for their batsmen. Our bowlers used the bounce available in the first 10 (overs) really well, and Chris went for the big shots. Ultimately, one of them didn’t pay off,” he added.

Next halt, New Zealand, and Dhoni won’t be wrong to expect the stars from his pacers in the windy conditions
up there.