India’s bowling steps up post Champions Trophy debacle

For years, India has been blessed with many good batsmen and a few good bowlers. Since the advent of the IPL that has changed a touch with more bowlers coming through the ranks but the quality hasn’t been as good as it was expected to be. Yet India picked and nurtured a battery of pacers before they started to fall away. Some reduced pace, some discipline and some just vanished from the cricketing scene. India persisted with the ones they tried for a considerable period of time since 2015.

They won a lot at home but struggled on good batting surfaces. The good run in Champions Trophy was halted by a rookie mistake by a bowler and a once-in-a-lifetime innings by Fakhar Zaman. That game was probably the first time India were outplayed rather comprehensively and it was no surprise that the side went for an overhaul straightaway. Interestingly, it weren’t the batsmen, but the bowlers who bore the brunt. India have since then won 14 out of the 18 ODIs played, losing just three of them. So what’s changed so dramatically? Who’s winning games for India, or rather, who’s setting them up for India?

India have always been a side which depended heavily on their opening bursts – be it with the bat or ball. When the openers do well, they find a way to manage the innings better, when the new-ball bowlers take a wicket or two, the spinners step in and take care of the rest. But that wasn’t the case leading to the Champions Trophy. India were not getting the early wickets they required and the spinners in Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin were now short of ideas to strike back. Let’s look at some numbers to prove this.

Virat Kohli took up full-time captaincy at the start of 2017 and he seemingly went in with the tried and tested bowling arsenal and the results will surprise you to no end. The bowling lacked penetration.

Team

Players Mat Inns Mdns Wickets Ave Econ SR 4 5
England 17 15 91 29 115 32.57 5.61 34.8 8

1

South Africa

16 16 93 30 111 31.17 5.21 35.8 5 0
New Zealand 23 14 83 14 98 32.88 5.37 36.6 0

2

Afghanistan

21 13 67 21 94 22.31 4.55 29.3 5 2
Pakistan 21 13 80 17 93 35.75 5.4 39.6 0

2

Australia

21 10 60 14 80 30.73 5.3 34.7 3 1
Ireland 16 13 75 15 80 38.87 5.49 42.4 1

1

Zimbabwe

13 7 41 19 59 23.81 4.53 31.4 0 1

Bangladesh

15 11 64 12 57 42.24 5.44 46.5 2

0

U.A.E. 13 7 42 14 57 24.12 4.31 33.5 2

2

Sri Lanka

25 11 66 9 52 52.86 6.03 52.5 1 0
West Indies 17 9 51 14 48 41.39 5.24 47.3 2

0

India

14 8 48 10 45 49.91 5.96 50.2 0 0
P.N.G. 14 3 20 5 21 35.14 4.99 42.1 0

0

Scotland

15 4 25 12 21 38.8 4.94 47 0 1
Hong Kong 11 2 12 5 13 28.69 4.29 40 1

0

India took only 45 wickets in 14 games with both the average and strike rate touching 50. India took 0 four or five-wicket hauls. India went with the same attack to England and did reasonably well but failed on the big day. Not too different from what transpired in the 2015 World Cup but it was important to learn from that mistake and Virat Kohli did. Compare that to the bowling performance after the Champions Trophy final, the numbers are in stark contrast.

Team

Players Mat Inns Mdns Wickets Ave Econ SR 4 5

India

21 18 97 31 132 29 4.9 35.4 3 2
Sri Lanka 29 15 96 19 75 45.97 5.6 49.2 3

1

Pakistan

14 5 32 10 43 20 3.97 30.1 0 2
West Indies 18 10 55 9 41 55.68 6.08 54.9 0

2

Australia

15 5 31 4 30 45.6 5.68 48.1 0 0
England 15 5 23 5 29 37.37 5.98 37.4 0

1

South Africa

15 3 17 6 27 25.37 4.94 30.7 2 0

Zimbabwe

14 5 32 4 24 52.62 5.55 56.8 0

0

New Zealand 11 3 18 3 18 46.5 5.73 48.6 1

0

P.N.G.

12 2 13 4 15 32 4.83 39.7 0

0

Scotland

12 2 13 5 14 26.64 4.07 39.2 0

0

Bangladesh 14 3 21 0 11 90.81 6.99 77.9 1

0

India since 19 June 2017 have taken 132 wickets in 21 games with a superb average and economy rate as well. The numbers tell you the story for a change, how going for bowlers who take wickets first have changed the landscape of Indian cricket. The likes of Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav have been able to take wickets in the middle overs something that Jadeja, Ashwin could not.

Those numbers make an even better reading if you check for the bowling performance of the spinners.

Matches Maidens Wickets Average Economy SR
Pre CT 17 8 0 15 61.8 6.01 73.3
Post CT 17 10 7 28 39.78 4.6 51.7

While it was a call that India should have taken a lot earlier, under Virat Kohli, India seem to be making the right decisions with respect to the bowlers. Now, that there is an issue with the batting order, Indian cricket fans will hope that the same results follow when they tinker their batting combination. And for once, we can say, it’s India’s bowling which is winning them more games than before for sure.

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