India vs West Indies 2014: Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami In Desperate Need of a Break
While India have given their first-choice spinner Ravichandran Ashwin a break for the first three ODIs in the upcoming series vs West Indies starting October 8, pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami continue to find themselves in the thick of things despite the risk of fatigue.
With less than six months to go for the ICC World Cup 2015 in Australia and New Zealand, defending champions India's fate will hinge on how they manage their bowling department between now and the start of the tournament.Â More precisely, on how they shield fast bowlers Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar from a possible burnout. (Sunil Narine Withdrawn from India Series)
In favourable English conditions, both Bhuvneshwar and Shami took turns to play crucial roles in the long and grueling Test and ODI series, one that would have taken a toll on them - both physically and mentally. In such a scenario, with a quintessential tour of Australia, dubbed as the dress rehearsal for the World Cup 2015, coming up in December, it would only make sense to let the two cool their heels in the upcoming five-match home series vs the West Indies. (Last Chance for India to Iron Out Flaws)
Numbers since January 1, 2014
|Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Players Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â||Â Â Â Â Â Â Â No of ODISÂ Â Â Â||Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â OversÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â||Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Wickets Â Â Â Â Â Â Â|
The above table clearly shows how both Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have had almost twice the amount of workload in 2014 when compared to most of their international contemporaries.
Only Lasith Malinga has played marginally more than the two but he too has had ample time for rest and recovery before he plays his next ODI, against England at home in November.
The South African duo of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel have a packed schedule ahead, with a three-match ODI series in New Zealand in October, followed by five ODIs in Australia in November. However, their overall workload leading up to the World Cup next year will remain lesser than Bhuvneshwar and Shami. The same will be the case with England's James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
Roles and Expectations
While Dhoni could rely on his spinners in sub-continental conditions in the 2011 World Cup, the tournament in Australia and New Zealand will be a completely different ball game. To challenge some of the best in the business, Dhoni needs a potent and most importantly a fit-enough fast bowling line-up to provide the right kind of balance in a setup that has batsmen jostling for a place in the side.
In this quest, Bhuvneshwar and Shami will form the fulcrum of the Indian bowling attack. It could be tempting to wager on the performances of the quick and nippy bowlers like Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav, but the lack of experience and a history of erratic bowling inspires very little confidence in the two. They are likely to be on the plane to Australia, but the onus of performance and responsibility of leading the attack will rest on the calm and composed shoulders of Bhuvneshwar and Shami.
Over the last 12 months, Dhoni has used the duo to maximum effect. The numbers above suggest that Shami, who is a touch quicker, has been his wicket-taking go-to man while Bhuvneshwar's ability to constantly hit the same line and length with sharp accuracy has helped India hold up at the other end. More often than not, Dhoni has dictated the tempo of the game early on by letting Bhuvneshwar bowl six-seven overs first up and put the pressure early on the opposition. Â
While India's first-choice spinnerRavichandran Ashwin will get to put his feet up and get some rest during the first three ODIs vs the West Indies, both Shami and Bhuvneshwar have been named in the 14-man squad. Unless they are played sparingly and are relieved of their duties in the remainder of the series, Dhoni's dreams of retaining the World Cup trophy could be pre-maturely shattered.