As India prepare to defend its title in the upcoming Champions Trophy in England, skipper Virat Kohli has a new-found headache. Fortunately for him, it is a ‘happy hassle’, courtesy of the brilliant form displayed by the Indian pace quartet of Mohammad Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah.
The selection panel headed by MSK Prasad had sent the four-man pace contingent to England to give skipper Virat Kohli more options at hand and incidentally, all the four bowlers have been impressive so far. In a recent interview to Times of India, former Indian all-rounder Kapil Dev had also lauded the selection by the Indian selectors and said, “If you look at previous tours, India depended greatly on their batsmen to flourish and show the way. This is the first time we are depending on four outstanding seam bowlers to deliver the goods.”
The reason behind Kohli’s headache was on display in the rain-curtailed match against New Zealand where the four seamers gave a trailer of how lethal they can be and how on their day they can rattle any batting line-up.
Among the four, Mohammed Shami has mastered the art of swing bowling and in English conditions, his experience to swing the ball with brisk pace will be crucial. His ability to swing the ball both ways makes him a strong contender for the spot to lead the attack. However, he has also been in and out of the side because of injuries and his last ODI match was in the 2015 World Cup. Hence, this will be an area of concern. However, against New Zealand, he proved his mettle as he was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3/47. His double strike in one over proved to be the decisive factor as New Zealand never recovered from the setback.
Along with Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar will most likely lead the new ball attack. Coming on the back of a phenomenal IPL, Kumar will be an invaluable asset in English conditions. Meanwhile, his record in England is also quite impressive. In the nine matches that Bhuvneshwar Kumar has played, he picked up 11 wickets but most importantly has an economy rate of just 4.10.
If Virat Kohli goes with a three-pronged pace attack then most likely the toss for the last spot will be between young Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav. One quality which gives Bumrah the edge over Yadav is his ability to bowl lethal yorkers at speeds above 140kmph. In the death overs, he has been Kohli’s go-to bowler to keep the run rate in check. On placid tracks where batsman will have the upper hand, Bumrah’s role towards the end of the innings will be crucial.
However, what Umesh Yadav brings to the table is raw pace and his ability to be a genuine wicket taking option. There have been times when he has been taken to the cleaners, but what can’t be denied is that he can break partnerships. Yadav has played the role of giving the crucial breakthroughs that the team requires. This is probably why the team management put faith in him and now he’s the most improved bowler in the last season and a half.
Yadav’s skill as a fast bowler is to swing the ball and at a brisk pace. He can easily hit speeds of over 140-kmph and swing the ball. He also hit the deck hard and bowl bouncers which tend to trouble the batsman. Which combination skipper Kohli will go ahead with is a matter of conjecture, but as far as spectators are concerned they will in for a sumptuous treat – because not often do you see Indian pacers troubling batsmen in foreign conditions.