A file photo of Indian pacer Ishant Sharma. (Getty Images)
Everyone seemed to have written them off after their consistently poor performance over the past few months, but Indian bowlers finally proved their worth in the second innings of ongoing Test between New Zealand and India at Eden Park in Auckland. Indian bowlers are under scrutiny at the moment as after a pathetic show in South Africa, MS Dhoni and his boys witnessed a 4-0 drubbing by the Kiwis on their home ground.
India have not won an away Test since June 2011 when they beat West Indies at Sabina Park, Jamaica. Their current sequence of 12 consecutive away Tests without a win is their worst since 1993-2001. After being bundled out for a mere 202 and having conceded 201-run first innings lead to the Kiwis, India looked done and dusted keeping their poor performances in bowling off late. But Ishant Sharma and co. came all guns firing in the second session and wrapped up New Zealand innings for 105 in just 41.2 overs. Only on six occasions India have dismissed their opponents for less than 100 in Tests, of which four times it has been in away Tests.
It was an all-round effort from the bowlers Mohammed Shami (3 for 37), Zaheer Khan (2 for 23), Ishant Sharma (3 for 28) and Ravindra Jadeja (1 for 10) to keep India in hunt in the first Test. Although they performed outstandingly in this innings but the performance of Indian bowlers in this series has not been good enough, and this is not down to any rule changes. Most of it has been short and wide and it has given the batsmen a fair amount of room to score freely. If you have to succeed in Tests -- you have to keep it tight and force the batsmen to make mistakes which they did terrifically well in the second innings.
A look at the performance of the bowlers in the series conveys India's problem. Out of the current pace attack of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Shami, only Bhuvneshwar had an economy rate of below five in the ODIs. Shami was the best bowler in the ODIs and with nine wickets in the first Test Ishnat has been the pick of the bolwers in Test series so far. Other bolwers have not been consistent and have failed to use the conditions on offer and bowled short and wide.
The pitches in New Zealand offer a lot of assistance to the pacers, unlike in India. So when the Indian bowlers see these pitches, they try to do too many things and don't stick to the basics. Now days, we can't see a single pacer in India, who has the ability to bowl yorkers and wicket-taking short deliveries consistently. The lack of pace in Indian bowling has also been an issue, everyone tends to compromise on the pace to avoid injuries and that is a big sign of worry for them in the future.
But whenever Indian bowlers have sticked to their basics and have been consistent with their line and length -- they have always been successful and Saturday was an example of that. Ishant, Zaheer and Shami were right on the money from the word go and made use of the conditions very well. They let their ball do the talking and did not try to do too many things. But the biggest question will be whether they can perform this way consistently?