Pace, Accuracy, Banter: 5 Skills Improved by Indian Bowlers

Here’s a look at five skills that the Indian bowlers have immensely improved in the last two years.

4 min read
File photo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Left) and Yuzvendra Chahal (Right). 

The Indian team has been in fabulous form in the last two years. Virat Kohli’s men have not lost a single Test series since January 2015 and an ODI bilateral series since January 2016.

While India’s batsmen have piled on the runs, there has been an incredible improvement in India’s bowling attack.

Whichever format, whatever the situation, the Indian bowlers have got it covered. If Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja can bowl long spells in Test matches, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah are taking care of the death overs in the shorter formats.

Here’s a look at the five skills that the Indian bowlers have immensely improved in the last two years.


1. Improved Pace

When Bhuvneshwar Kumar burst into the international scene in 2012, he was a quintessential swing bowler. But after a couple of years, the batsmen found a way to counter the swing and played him with ease, mostly due to lack of pace.

But in the last two years, something has changed.

Bhuvneshwar’s pace has gradually increased from 130 kph to 140 kph. The speedster nowadays generally operates between 135 kph and 140 kph.

In an interview to ESPNCricinfo, Bhuvneshwar Kumar explained how he has transformed his pace.

I always wanted to bowl fast. Even before my international debut, I wanted to increase my pace, but I had no clue how to do it and I kept training like I used to in the past. When Shankar Basu became India’s trainer, he introduced power training. I used to work out in the gym before but I never felt that it had an impact on my pace. But after starting to do power training, I could see that I was getting stronger and my pace was increasing.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Bhuvneshwar realised that his pace had increased during the ODI series against South Africa in 2015.

The Meerut bowler, however, lost his swing in the process of going for more pace. But eventually, Bhuvneshwar got his swing back and became a lethal bowler.

2. More Accuracy and Control

Umesh Yadav was completely opposite to Bhuvneshwar Kumar when he made his international debut in 2010. The speedster had raw pace and nothing else. The Nagpur pacer bowled fast, but couldn’t land the ball in the right areas consistently.

From the Test series against South Africa in 2015, Umesh Yadav has managed to control his bowling and has been delivering balls accurately.

From his debut Test in 2011 to August 2015, Umesh Yadav averaged 38.56 in 15 matches, but in the last two years, the speedster has improved his average to 33.19 in 19 matches.

And apart from controlled bowling, Umesh Yadav has the ability to bounce the batsmen as well.

In the fourth Test against Australia in Dharamsala in March this year, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar consistently rattled the Australian batsmen with bouncers in their second innings.

Australia were reduced 31/3 in 9.2 overs.


3. Death Bowling

One aspect in the shorter formats that India were seriously struggling was bowling in the death overs. Various teams had only one strategy against India, which was to keep wickets in hand until the 40th over to set up a launch pad. And then notch at least 100 runs in the last 10 overs. In an ODI against South Africa in 2015, India conceded 144 runs in the last 10 overs.

However, now, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah have learnt the art of bowling yorkers. Either they bowl on the block hole or on the wide line.

In the recent ODI series against Australia, India conceded only 59 and 52 runs in the last 10 overs of the third and fifth ODI respectively. The effort in the death overs makes or breaks India’s chances of winning.

When Bhuvneshwar was once asked about his death bowling preparations after he bowled India to victory against England in an ODI, he said:

We have been practising bowling yorkers with wet balls. That was one of the plans we had in a pressure situation. 
Bhuvneshwar Kumar to Hindustan Times

4. Wrist Spinners

After the death overs were taken care of, India found a way to pick up wickets during the middle overs as well. It is through the wrist spinners that the Indian team has started picking up wickets in the middle overs in the shorter format games.

During the Champions Trophy, India struggled to get wickets against Sri Lanka and Pakistan and therefore ended up in the losing side.

But, since Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have come into the side, India have started picking up wickets in the middle overs consistently.

Both Kuldeep and Chahal have played 11 ODIs in their career so far. Kuldeep has picked up 18 wickets while Chahal has taken 17.

The wrist spinners have more variations than finger spinners and therefore they can take wickets by deceiving the batsman.

The duo of Yadav and Chahal have confidently tormented teams in the past four months. They have bettered their skill in every match they have played so far.


5. Outspoken Bowlers

Apart from improving their bowling skills, Kuldeep and Chahal have also played mind games with the Australian batsmen during the ODI series.

Ahead of the second ODI, Kuldeep Yadav said that he can dismiss Australian opener David Warner anytime. The chinaman bowler had dismissed Warner in the first ODI. Even though Kuldeep didn’t get Warner out in the remainder of the series, the comment surely would have got Warner thinking about it.

Even Chahal openly explained in a press conference how he made Glenn Maxwell his bunny. He dismissed the aggressive batsman three out of three times in the ODI series. Maxwell was dropped for the last two ODIs.

My strategy for Maxwell is not to bowl at the stumps. That’s a wrong area. I tend to bowl outside the off-stump and I vary my pace. I know that if I can bowl 2-3 dot balls, he will step out and try to play an aggressive shot. However, in order to beat the batsman, the line and length must be perfect.
Yuzvendra Chahal

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