Over three challenging away tours in 2018, the Indian pace attack, revolving around Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah, came of age.
Four years later, India's fast bowling cupboard is stacked. There's an assembly line of quicks waiting in the wings, with the likes of Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik, Mohsin Khan and plenty more in action in the ongoing IPL.
Former West Indies fast bowler Ian Bishop, who is doing commentary in this IPL, weighs in on the prospect of the uncapped Indian fast bowlers taking the next leap.
Let's start by talking about Arshdeep. He has been crucial to Punjab Kings at the death. What makes him so good?
Arshdeep has good accuracy and a great feel for knowing when to bowl what type of delivery. The control he has of his yorker and change of pace is brilliant. So, knowing when to use a specific delivery or change of pace and length is what makes him stand out.
A bowler can have a lot of variation, but he must know when to use it and have control of the delivery, especially when bowling at the end phase of the innings. He has a great feel for what a batsman is trying to do.
One example was when Punjab Kings played Gujarat Titans in a tight game on April 08th at the Brabourne stadium. Hardik Pandya was batting well and trying to see his team to victory. Arshdeep set the offside field deep with a long off, extra cover and backward point on the boundary.
In addition, he had a short fine leg and deep mid-wicket, so it was a field set obviously for a wide yorker. Instead, he ran up and bowled Hardik the perfect bouncer which almost cleaned Hardik up but for his excellent reflexes as a batsman as he just managed to evade it.
He was prodding forward expecting the full wide ball, but Arshdeep bluffed him with the opposite delivery which, to be honest, was a risky ball in a tight contest.
Had Hardik been aware of the plan, he could easily have hooked or pulled and at worst top-edged it for four or six since there was no protection for that shot in what was already a tight contest.
Are IPL teams now more willing to trust Indian quicks?
I believe that franchises are getting to that place where they are prepared to use the local quick bowlers as primary weapons at crucial times in a game or the season.
We have seen Umran Malik, Kuldeep Sen, Shivam Mavi, Yash Dayal, Moshin Khan, and Mukesh Choudhary all have crucial impacts on various games.
What impresses you the most about Umran Malik, apart from his sheer pace?
Malik’s pace distinguishes him from every other bowler around the country and beyond now. It has been heartening watching his control improve as the IPL has gone along.
He is adding control and know-how to his skill set without losing velocity.
He seems to be a quick learner and a very hard worker who is not overawed by the boundary hitting power of the modern batsman. He gets hit for boundaries and keeps running in harder. That is a great attitude to have.
It helps to have a short memory in the T20 format as a fast bowler. Forget the inevitable bad over or bad games as quickly as possible and keep striving for a good performance with a smile and joy. It is important though to acknowledge that Malik is still a work in progress. He is nowhere near the finished article.
Having followed the IPL closely over the last few years, do you feel the Indian domestic fast bowlers have now become more adept at bowling and controlling their yorkers? If yes, what would you attribute it to?
I think the yorkers are still a work in progress. It is such a difficult ball to bowl consistently. Some days a few guys get it going and then on other days they miss the length.
Bhuvi, Bumrah and to a lesser extent Natarajan are still the best guys at it. Those three are much more experienced and older than the younger core.
Lastly, which uncapped Indian fast bowler will make you switch on the TV no matter where you are and why?
Umran Malik of course. But I like the promise and diverse attributes that the above-mentioned group bring. Without disliking any of them, I think there is something extra in the potential of Mohsin Khan and Kuldeep Sen.
It may not be in all formats and may in some cases be just white ball options. But in today's world of specialisation, that is no drawback.
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