Indian pacers do not enjoy the reputation and hardly command the sort of respect that their counterparts from Australia and South Africa do. Yet, in the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League, the next generation of fast bowlers have shown that they are capable of heroic performances. (Note: Following stats are till the 19th match of IPL, played on April 29). (Points Table | Schedule)
In a tournament which features celebrated international pacers like Lasith Malinga, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Morne Morkel, Indian pacers have done exceedingly well in the first-leg of the tournament. While Kolkata spinner Sunil Narine is the highest wicket-taker with nine wickets from five matches, the next four in the list are all pacers and all Indians - Varun Aaron (eight wickets from four matches for Bangalore), Mohit Sharma (eight wickets from five matches for Chennai), Laxmipathy Balaji (eight wickets from five matches for Punjab) and Sandeep Sharma (seven wickets from three matches for Punjab).
The performance of Indian pacers has been phenomenal, especially when compared to that of the likes of Malinga, Johnson, Starc and Morkel who have not been shabby either. Malinga - who is part of Mumbai Indians' team - has claimed seven wickets from four matches and is sixth in the list of wicket-takers due to a higher economy rate than that of Sandeep. Aussie Johnson (Punjab) and Starc (Bangalore) also have seven wickets each but have also been rather expensive.
That young Indian rookies doing well with the ball is a heartening sign for cricket in the country. The rise of 20-year-old Sandeep for instance, has been exceptional with former cricketers like Venkatesh Prasad raving about his ability to bowl consistently well. "He has a big heart and his seam position is very good," the former India pacer told NDTV. (KXIP, the comprehensive winners of UAE)
That veterans in the side are helping them is also reflecting in the manner in which Indian bowlers have made their presence known. "Viru pa (Virender Sehwag) is a gem of a person. Whenever he sees me doing something wrong with my bowling in the nets, he stops his own batting to come and help me correct my technique," Sandeep had been quoted as saying in an interview on IPL's official website.
With a long tour to England coming up after IPL, and the all-important 50-over World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year, Indian selectors may finally have the luxury of some options as far as pace bowling is concerned.