Southampton: As the Indian team assembled for a routine game of football at the conclusion of the third Test in Southampton on Thursday, a couple of dejected men sat in the balcony above the change rooms.
India paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar looks dejected as Gary Ballance of England has a lucky escape during Day One of the third Test on Sunday at Rose Bowl in Southampton. Pic/Getty Images.
Ishant Sharma, in a blue training shirt stared down at his teammates stroking his chin in deep thought. Adjacent to him, in his cricket whites, bare foot, feet on the railing, head up wondering towards the sky sat Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
In the second Test at Lord’s, the pair had been instrumental in bowling their country to a memorable win at the home of cricket. On Thursday afternoon, they looked fatigued and jaded. In a space of three weeks, Kumar had bowled 125 overs while Ishant had broken down after bowling 85 overs in a space of two weeks.
The last time Ishant had bowled that many overs in space of two weeks would have been over six months ago in New Zealand. In between the lack of four-day cricket and lack of bowling has clearly taken its toll on the lanky paceman. Kumar just in his ninth Test had never had to bowl as many overs in such a short period of time even at the Ranji Trophy level.
Ishant was missed severely at the Rose Bowl, as India simply could not find someone who could fill the void created by his injury. Pankaj Singh, the debutant looked impressive at times but his average bowling speed had dropped sharply on Day Two of the game. Kumar who bowled at an average speed over 80mph at Lord’s, was consistently below that figure since the second session on Day 1 here.
Mohammad Shami, India’s third paceman, is however their greatest worry. While Kumar and Ishant have at least played over 50 first class games, Shami is yet to even toil away in domestic cricket, having only played 15 domestic four-day games.
124.5: The number of overs Bhuvneshwar Kumar has bowled in first three Tests