Myth of India's weak ODI bowling attack

Source :SIFY
Last Updated: Sat, Feb 28th, 2015, 05:00:40hrs
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Myth of India's weak ODI bowling attack
There is a myth that keeps persisting that we have the weakest ODI bowling attack. It is touted from time to time and presented as a fact. However when you look through the record books, you find that it keeps getting busted.

Since the 1983 World Cup, we have always been a very competitive ODI bowling unit despite our limitations. In sports more than raw talent, it is the results that matter.

That premier tournament boasted the likes of the fearsome troika of West Indies fast bowlers in the form of Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall. Both India and West Indies played an equal number of matches.
And yet the gentle pace of Roger Binny (18 wickets) and Madan Lal (17) still saw them emerge as the leading wicket-takers of the tournament. Medium pacer Mohinder Amarnath also saw a fine 2-27 in the semi-final and an astonishing 3-12 in the final.

Who would have thought that the Indian troika would be more fearsome than the West Indies troika!
Our bowlers defended an extremely low total 183 in 60 overs and this still happens to be the lowest total ever defended in a World Cup final.

That edition also featured the likes of Richard Hadlee and Bob Willis. In the 1985 World Series final we restricted Pakistan to a low 176 in 50 overs. We had a stranglehold over the batting of all the teams throughout the tournament.

Even if you look as recently as the 2011 World Cup, there was a great variety of fast bowlers in the form of Brett Lee, Lasith Malinga, Dale Steyn, Shaun Tait, Mitchell Johnson and Morne Morkel. Yet Zaheer Khan was the highest wicket-taker among the fast bowlers.

In the final of the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy, our bowlers defended a paltry 129 in 20 overs. An abysmal run rate of 6.5 in a virtual T20 match will be probably be chased nine times out of ten.

Yet the bowling attack delivered the goods for us. Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were part of that bowling attack. Even when you look at the 2015 World Cup, then South Africa and Pakistan were our strongest opponents in the group.

Yet both were blown away for 177 and 224 respectively. It's not always about raw speed and overall records, but about taking wickets and containing runs in key situations and our bowlers usually deliver in ODIs. So why does everyone keep calling our ODI bowling attack weak?

There are two reasons for his myth.

Fact 1: We have a weak overseas Test bowling attack. Our bowlers have always struggled in the Test domain for some reason. Many a times our fast bowlers fail to capitalize on the greenest of pitches even as our spinners look totally clueless. They also have a regular habit of getting the top order out quickly and then totally losing steam allowing the tail to pile on the runs.

Fact 2: We've never had a tearaway fast bowler. Think of so many tall and fearsome West Indies fast bowlers who could injure anyone at will. Think of the Pakistan fast bowling tradition of Sarfraz Nawaz, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar.

South Africa has Steyn, Sri Lanka has Malinga and New Zealand has Tim Southee. India has never had the fastest bowler in the world.

These two facts have led to the myth that we have a weak ODI bowling attack too even though the two are not co-related. All Indian bowlers (like our batsmen) thrive in the shorter format of the game and are masters at optimizing their sometimes minimal skills.

They may collapse in bilateral series from time to time, but they always up their game in a key tournament and if we win the 2015 ODI World Cup then we'll join Australia as the country with the most ICC tournament trophies.
Currently Australia has 6 (4 ODI World Cups and 2 ICC Champions Trophies.)

India has 5 (2 ODI World Cups, 1 T20 World Cup and 2 2 ICC Champions Trophies.)

You don't get that kind of record with a weak bowling attack!

The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.

He blogs at
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