Nature of surfaces has been a stark difference while playing Test matches at home during the captaincy stint of Virat Kohli and his predecessor Mahendra Singh Dhoni. While Dhoni preferred to exploit home advantage by pitches that overtly assisted India’s spinners, Kohli after following the tradition early on has evolved into adapting a fair use policy.
While it hasn’t really diminished the impact of spin twins R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in Tests at home, the policy has resulted in India’s potent pace attack coming into the game even more than the past. Ishant Sharma has finally evolved as a mature bowler during the period, while Umesh Yadav has been one of the key perfomers at home, as he displayed during the 13-Test season at home in 2016-17.
Mohammed Shami has been lethal whenever he has got an opportunity, as he displayed with his five-wicket haul on the fifth day in Visakhapatnam. Even Bhuvneshwar Kumar has used the conditions to his advantage. Not to mention a certain Jasprit Bumrah is yet to wear India’s whites at home.
Arun, India’s bowling coach, stressed that India’s pacers have the requisite skillset to succeed in varied conditions. “I think there is a chance for pacers on any track provided they have necessary skills and our fast bowlers have done quite well in abroad and in India. In Indian wickets, when the ball spins, it also becomes conducive for reverse swing, all our bowlers are pretty good at reverse swing,” Arun, a former Test pacer himself, said here on Tuesday ahead of India’s second Test versus South Africa starting Thursday.
While the opposition pacers have failed to restrict India’s batting line-up — as was evident in Visakhapatnam with Ishant and Shami overshadowing the combination of Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander — Arun stressed that plying trade in domestic cricket helps India’s pacers execute reverse swing better.
“Our bowlers are pretty skilful at reverse swing because when we play domestic cricket, the wickets are flat tracks and normally sometimes you get outfield which is not great. For a bowler to be successful, one needs to learn how to reverse the ball,” Arun said.
“I think domestic cricket contributes a lot as you can see that most exponents of reverse swing come from sub-continent because conditions in the sub-continent needs the bowler to adapt, they learn how to bowl reverse swing.”
With the unpredictable weather conditions in Pune for the second Test, it would be interesting to see if the pacers are faced with a task to succeed against the odds or in favourable conditions.