Boxing Day Test: India's pace effect that trumped the hosts

Updated: Dec 30, 2018, 07:31 IST | R Kaushik

India's Bowling coach Bharat Arun lauds his pacers for putting up another sensational show in Boxing Day Test as India inch closer to victory

Boxing Day Test: India's pace effect that trumped the hosts
India pacer Mohammed Shami celebrates the wicket of Australia's Usman Khawaja on Day Four of the third Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday. The umpire’s decision was reviewed, but there was no reprieve. Pic/Getty Images

Jasprit Bumrah finished Day Four of the third Test against Australia with match figures of eight for 86, currently the best by an Indian fast bowler in a match Down Under, ahead of Kapil Dev's eight for 109 in Adelaide 33 years back. If he can pick up the remaining two wickets today, he will become the first Indian quick to bag a 10-wicket haul in Australia, joining the elite company of BS Chandrashekar, Bishan Bedi and Anil Kumble.

Also on Saturday, Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma joined hands to take their tally of wickets for this calendar year to 131, a sensational accomplishment for a nation that has seldom boasted the depth in pace riches of today. Understandably, Bharat Arun, the bowling coach, was a delighted man.

Bharat Arun
Bharat Arun

"Definitely yes," Arun said, agreeing that this was the best crop of Indian quicks ever. "And, over a period of time, right from the period we started the tour of South Africa, England and now, they have done exceptionally well. Recently, I was told that they have broken the record [for most wickets in a year], that speaks volumes about these fast bowlers."

Australia require 141 runs more with two wickets in hand after ending Day Four on 258-8, chasing a 399-run target. It isn't by accident that these gems have come together. While Ishant has been around for 11 years and Umesh Yadav made his debut in late 2011, Bumrah didn't make his maiden Test appearance till January this year. Shami broke through in November 2013, some nine months after Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the other specialist quick in the jumbo 19-man party on tour.

"It's a combination of a lot of work - identifying what it requires to be bowling fast over a period of time, the strength and conditioning coach [Shankar] Basu and physio [Patrick Farhart] have played a major role in also making these fast bowlers," Arun pointed out. "Load-monitoring is extremely crucial if you want them to last over a period of time. And their inputs, thereby, become extremely important. It's team work, it's the coaches plus strength and conditioning expert and physio. We sit down and discuss the load of the bowlers and that helps us to take really good calls."

India's quicks have got the old ball to swing a lot more than their Australian counterparts, and Arun had an answer for that. "Most Indian bowlers, when they play domestic cricket back home, they use the old ball very well. In sub-continent conditions, the new ball doesn't move much, most conditions are conducive to spin. So the only way the fast bowlers can make an impression is if they learn to use the old ball or reverse it. The domestic structure in India has really helped these fast bowlers evolve."

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