A Mix of Youth and Experience, Can India's Pace Battery Fire Against Australia?
Indian pacers have often showed promise and then fizzled out. As Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men start their quest in Australia, a lot would depend on Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Co. to extract maximum advantage out of the pitches Down Under
India and pace bowling may not be chalk and cheese, but the two definitely don't make a very happy couple. Despite giving glimpses of hope, Indian pacers have almost regularly fallen to inconsistency and injury.
After Zaheer Khan, no Indian pacer has succeeded to command the same kind of awe and respect from the cricket world. It is for this reason Ishant Sharma, despite being the senior-most member in the current Indian Test team with 61 appearances, finds it hard to consolidate his place in the limited-overs teams.(Steve Smith Ready for Indian Challenge)
As India embark on a five-ODI and three-Twenty20I away series against Australia, starting in Perth on Tuesday, all eyes will be on pacers to deliver in a challenging series. For India, the bad news is that one of them, Mohammed Shami, is already out of the tour due to hamstring injury.(Australia Face Acid Test With Depleted Squad)
Down Under, the conditions are different from home and much would depend on how well the speedsters can utilise the bounce and pace that will be on offer. Obviously, in limited overs format, it may not entirely be pacers' paradise but their role will be much crucial than in Indian conditions, where spinners handle much of the workload.(India and Australia Renew Rivalry)
In the ODIs, Ishant, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (called in place of Shami) and the uncapped Barinder Sran make the pace quartet. All-rounder Rishi Dhawan, with his medium pace, is also handy.(India Spoilt for Choice in Spin Department)
Umesh Yadav, the Man With the Golden Arm
Out of the four specialist pacers, Umesh and Bhuvneshwar were part of the team when India last played in Australia, at the 2015 World Cup. While Yadav proved his mettle by finishing as India's top wicket-taker with 18 scalps, Bhuvneshwar could play just one match after failing to recover fully from an ankle injury.(India Must Win One ODI to Retain No. 2 Spot)
Ishant was not part of the World Cup squad and last played ODIs in November 2014, against Sri Lanka. His performance in the South Africa Test series was also not special and surprisingly did not bowl in the warm-up game against Western Australia XI. Barinder and Rishi showed promise in that match, but are yet to be tested on the international stage.('India Will Come Hard at Australia')
So, apart from Umesh, none of the other pacers can claim to have significant experience of bowling successfully in Australian conditions in the recent past.(Why India Should Test Bench Strength vs Australia)
In the Twenty20Is, Umesh and Bhuvneshwar have the company of veteran Ashish Nehra, who is making a comeback to the national squad after a gap of four years.(Top 5 Bowlers to Watch Out for)
A hot combination on paper
The potential of the likes of Ishant, Nehra and Bhuvneshwar can't be ignored and along with the in-form Umesh, who is the quickest of the lot, they look an effective combination on paper. Barinder and Rishi may be newcomers but they have shown their potential. (Top 5 Batsmen to Watch Out for)
But on the field, mere reputation won't matter. Especially at a place where the last time India won a series was back in 2008. The Australian team is currently under transition but still the likes of Steven Smith, David Warner, George Bailey, Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh can destroy any bowling attack on their day.(Top 10 Memorable ODIs in India)
They should be respected but not feared. If under the leadership of the in-form Umesh, Ishant, Nehra and Bhuvneshwar can conjure the old form that they gained prominence for, the Australian summer might just turn too hot for the hosts to handle.