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World-class Indian Attack Capable of Putting England to The Pace Test – SportsMediaz


England swept away New Zealand in a home Test series, but the next opponent in the line of fire, India, is no pushover when it comes to bowling strength. Giving the host a taste of its own medicine is within reach for the visitors, whose swing, seam specialists are on par with England’s best, if not better, in varying conditions where bowlers hold the upper hand from session to session.

Test cricket in English conditions can turn into an unnerving task for those at the crease, dealing with the moving ball which seems to have a life of its own once it leaves the bowler’s hand. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami can make the ball talk in their own distinctive ways. Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj hustle batters with pace and carry. Prasidh Krishna, uncapped and nippy, is an unknown quantity for the England batters.

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Individually and as a hunting pack, these bowlers can match the England attack blow for blow, due to technical ability and recently-acquired confidence in winning overseas under Ravi Shastri, the former coach. Matthew Potts (14 wickets in first series), Jack Leach, James Anderson, Stuart Broad left the Kiwis rattled, it is highly unlikely that England batters, led from the front by Ben Stokes, will be comfortable dealing with questions from this Indian swing and seam attack in the one-off Edgbaston Test.

Gone are the days when Indian captains used a seam bowler to take the shine off the red cherry, waiting for spin greats to take charge of wicket-taking. Priorities have changed as frequency of overseas tours increased, Indian quicks rose to the challenge against Australia in Australia, against England in England, against South Africa in South Africa. The ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand was played in England.

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Spinners R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja had roles to play, though the bulk of bowling from 2020 onwards was borne by seamers in games overseas. Ex-India bowling coach, Bharat Arun, groomed the talents identified by selectors into a fearless, formidable bunch. Paras Mhambrey, the current bowling coach and deputy to chief coach Rahul Dravid, is expected to carry forward the thinking of ex-skipper Virat Kohli about taking the toss out of the equation, focussing on taking 20 wickets per game in a play-to-win mindset.

With reputations to defend, the home batters like ex-captain Joe Root did not have to face swing ace Bhuvneshwar in the three Tests when tempers flared on the pitch in step with action, ending with India up 2-1 at the break. Injury issues kept him away the last time India toured here under Kohli’s captaincy, however this quiet achiever has happy memories of past England tours, a classy 6/48 at Lord’s in 2014 being the most memorable.

Stokes, the current England captain, was one of his victims, beaten by a delivery swinging in to send stumps flying. Loud celebration is not Bhuvneshwar’s style, rather a smile at the batter after the ball has done the damage says more than a shriek by others. Bumrah’s control over length and mastery over angles, Shami’s carry off the pitch and sharp movement proved too hot for England batters to handle, before covid disrupted the series. The harassed hosts, down 1-2, got a reprieve.

Of the others, Thakur, Umesh and Siraj were tough to score against. Umesh’s thunderbolts led to a six-wicket haul and sealed India’s victory in the fourth Test at the Oval. The pacer entered the 150 Test wickets club. Kapil Dev (150 wickets in 39 Tests), Javagal Srinath, Shami and Zaheer Khan were the other Indians to reach the landmark.

Kapil, Srinath, Zaheer are now part of cricket history, Shami is very much in the mix and can be the match-winner India is looking for.

Like Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah, he excels across cricket formats and can be as lethal in four overs of T20 or 20 overs in a Test match. Shami is worth much more than the 214 wickets in 59 Test appearances for India, for the way he sets up established batters before sending them packing with a late outswinger, a brutal in-cutter or a surprise ball rearing up off the track. For this strongly-built new ball bowler with a big heart, wicket-taking is one of life’s pleasures.

Bumrah continues to re-write the coaching manual with every series. With 123 wickets from only 29 Test appearances, including eight five-wicket bursts, this pacer with a distinctive bowling action can be a handful for England under a new coach, Brendon McCullum. The hostile pace off a short run-up and experiments with angles keeps batters on tenterhooks. The series victory over the Kiwis may have lifted the home team spirits, Bumrah’s hostility and accuracy can bring England down to earth at Edgbaston.

If India’s focus is on pace, the visitors have in Umesh, Siraj, Thakur three eager players competing for one spot in the line-up. Dravid and deputy Mhambrey have a task on their hands selecting the playing XI from among so many bowling options.

Just one match is not enough to assess the strong and weak links on either side. In these covid-affected times, the concluding Test offers five days of excitement, at the end of which it will be clear whether the Indian bowlers can rewrite the script once again, after putting the rival batters to the pace test.

There was a time when Indian bowlers fell short of the calibre expected from match-winners on away tours. In step with changing times, cricket connoisseurs in England watch with amazement the strides Bhuvneshwar, Bumrah, Shami have taken, in turn inspiring a young generation to switch to a fast lane.

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