We are in peak form, says India's bowling coach Bharat Arun
India's bowling coach Bharat Arun sends out a warning to Virat Kohli & Co's World Cup opponents...
It is one of those rare instances in Indian cricket history where it is bowling unit that is doing all the talking instead of just batsmen. The fact that India are one of the favourites to lift the World Cup is because the batting and bowling units pose an equal threat.
mid-day caught up with India's bowling coach Bharat Arun before Virat Kohli & Co flew to London on Tuesday, to talk about what has gone into the making of a formidable bowling unit.
How heartening is it to see the bowlers giving India an edge?
The fact that they are a force to reckon with and are the most feared attack in world cricket which people respect and fear, is a wonderful feeling to have as an Indian.
Can you reveal your coaching mantra?
As far as looking after the bowlers is concerned, it is about managing workload. We involve the trainer and physio in it to determine what exactly should be the bowlers' workload. It helps keep them fresh. As far as technical aspects are concerned, it is about understanding what their strengths are and the areas they can improve upon. And also having those kind of challenging situations in the nets where the bowlers say exactly what are they going to execute and to see whether they have executed what they wanted to. A realistic feedback is what will help these bowlers develop. It is a simple thing but we give a lot of attention to these simple things.
There has been a lot of talk about flat pitches on offer for the World Cup. What will be the bowlers' role in such conditions?
All the bowlers are different. The wickets in an ICC tournament are good batting surfaces, unless in England where you never know about the weather. When it is overcast and cloudy, there are chances that the ball may move around. In that case, we need to be extremely flexible. Also, we take it one game at a time. If you look at the form of all our bowlers in the IPL and the form leading up to the IPL, it was extremely encouraging. So yes, we have a very well experienced bowling attack and they are all in peak form.
Is IPL form an authentic indicator?
I would look at the rhythm of a bowler and how far is he able to execute what he wants to. Many a time there's a slip between the cup and the lip... you want to execute a good yorker, but it ends up as an over-pitched delivery. It is often said that cricket is a mind game. It is about handling pressure in the middle. You will never be able to create that match-pressure in practice no matter how stringent you may be. The bowlers come and tell me what they want to do. I don't tell them anything. I just ask them what they are going to do. They go and execute. So, when they do that and if they falter, I tell them. There is no set mantra to describe it [the coaching process].
That helps in clarity...
Absolute clarity. If there is an element of doubt that's when you tend to make a lot of mistakes. And even if they execute well, the ball can still be hit out of the ground. You just got to look at have I executed the ball well? If you have, then the credit must go to the batsman for having executed that shot. You are up against the best in the world, so you are going to get hit as well. Even a good ball can go for a boundary. If you have executed your delivery well, then don't worry about the outcome, because the outcome is not in your hands. One of the most well-executed yorkers can (result in an) inside edge and run for a boundary. Sometimes it does affect the bowler. It is not that easy to forget it, but at least he has time to think till the time he walks back to his run-up.
Kuldeep Yadav's form has taken a beating in the IPL. What went wrong?
The best of bowlers have been taken to the cleaners some time or the other. Kuldeep is no different. This is the time for him to find out why he was taken to the cleaners. Was it my wrong ideas or the execution wasn't right. He can reflect on it. It is also a good time to remind Kuldeep about his good spells and also talk to him that the best of the bowlers are hit. The weaker person loses it all, but if you are strong, you will not be scared of being hit. And as a spinner, you cannot be scared. As I said, cricket is a mind game. You need to be confident about your execution in a big event like the World Cup. Also, you need not say all the time that it is World Cup. Try and treat it as just another game. That will be the approach.
Has Kuldeep being over-exposed before the World Cup?
I think Kuldeep has spent time quite a bit (of time) on the road. After being hit in the IPL, I think that kind of break would give him enough time to reflect. I am sure he must have got over it by now. There is only one way to go now and that is to be much better than what he was. Sport is also about handing failures. How you handle your failures becomes important in how you handle your success. His success has been more than his failures. Also, he is not running away from what he has done. Go deeply into why he was hit for so many runs and I think he will find his own solution.
What exactly has gone into making India an all-round bowling unit?
The biggest decision was to have wrist spinners as we were not able to get the desired amount of wickets from our finger spinners. That was also the time when Kuldeep and Yuzvendra Chahal were doing very well in the IPL. Wrist spinners can get some amount of help even from the flattest of pitches. That is exactly what we needed and there are not many comfortable facing wrist spinners the world over. So, we replaced R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja and they [Kuldeep and Chahal] have had a pretty good run so far.
Is not having a left-arm pacer a concern?
I wouldn't look at it as a concern. Yes, if there was a very good left-arm pacer, he would definitely add variety to the attack. But if you look at it individually, what these guys can do like Mohammed Shami or Bhuvneshwar Kumar or Jasprit Bumrah… you can't ask for anything more. Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar bowling in tandem at the top and in the death overs are one of the best combinations in world cricket. I would rather dwell on what we have rather than what we don't.
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