Behind a largely fulfilling campaign for the bowling unit in South Africa — India was not far away from winning the Test series and emerged triumphant in both the ODIs and Twenty20s — was a clever switch in thinking.
As the Indian team’s popular bowling coach B. Arun revealed to Sportstar on Tuesday, “We did not want to think we were going to play in a foreign land. We said to ourselves, ‘Let us make South Africa and its conditions our home over the next two months.’ It was this change in mind-set that helped us.”
Giving us further insight into the Indian team’s philosophy and approach, Arun said, “We were not afraid to lose. We wanted to play a brand of cricket that was aggressive and make an impression. We were not intimidated by South Africa in its own backyard. In fact, we wanted to intimidate them.”
And instilling belief in the side was the captain-coach duo of Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri. “Virat led with confidence, energy and by example and it rubbed off on the side. And Ravi is a very positive person.”
Talking about his pace pack, Arun said, “The pace attack had everything, speed, swing, control. Bhuvneshwar, who swung the ball tellingly and bowled around 135 kmph, is developing into a silent assassin for us.”
Arun noted, “And we were always sure that Jasprit Bumrah, with his awkward action, pace and bounce, was going to play in Tests. We just need to manage his workload since he puts in so much effort in his last two strides.”
Mohammed Shami, the bowling coach felt, could produce some scorching wicket-taking bursts but needed to work on his consistency. The experienced Ishant Sharma helped create pressure, Arun said.
On the wrist spin duo, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, Arun said, “Spin bowling is a lot about deception and both Kuldeep and Chahal defeated the South African batsmen in the air. Both have so much variety and are attacking, wicket-taking options.”
The Indian bowling did give Arun plenty to smile about.