Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah have currently dispelled the notion that Indian patches assist only spin. (Photo Credit: PTI)
India have won 13 consecutive Test series at home ever since their last defeat to England in 2012. Under the leadership of MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli, the Indian cricket team have established a level of dominance that rivals with the West Indies and Australian teams of the 80s and the new millennium. The contributions from the Indian team members have been total and have come at vital times. Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane have led the way with the bat while spinners like Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, along with the pacers have been instrumental in their ascension as the best side in the world. However, during the course of their domination, there has been a lingering question.
Is India's dominance based totally on spinners? For a very long time, overseas teams coming to India would have to deal with a familiar blueprint. The pacers would bowl only a couple of overs and then they would have to face trial by spin. With each passing day, the pitches in India would crumble and become dustbowls which would assist the spinners a lot more. Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh would testify that pitches during the 90s and the first decade of the new millennium heavily assisted the spinners. The pacers would be there either to take the shine off the new ball or they would come in when there was some reverse swing on offer.
However, as it will be revealed below, the perception is surely changing. India are Tigers at Home, but their dominance is not merited on spin alone.
From 2013 till September 2016 - Spin is still king
During the last days of MS Dhoni's captaincy and the beginning of the Virat Kohli-era, spin was still the dominant factor. After the end of the England series, India played two Test series against Australia and West Indies and won all six of them. The dominance was led by the emergence of Ashwin and Jadeja, who would become the ultimate spin twins in home Tests. The contribution of the pacers was not much.
|Name||Matches||Overs||Wickets||Average||Five wicket haul||10 wicket haul|
Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma picked just 33 wickets in the period with only two bowlers bowling over 100 overs which was Bhuvneshwar and Ishant. The averages for both Ishant and Bhuvneshwar are near 40 and it shows they were just there to contain the batting and chip in with wickets if required. The spinners bowled 1091 overs while the pacers bowled just 374 overs in this period.
From October 2016 till present - The pacers catch up
Ever since the start of the New Zealand series in October 2016, under the captaincy of Kohli, the pacers have played a massive part. The likes of Umesh, Shami, Ishant, Bhuvneshwar have stepped up and been the key drivers of running through the opposition. In the 2017 series against Australia at home, Umesh had taken 17 wickets and was the third-highest wicket-taker behind Ashwin and Jadeja. In the West Indies series, Umesh topped the bowling charts while the combine of Ashwin, Jadeja and Kuldeep took 26 wickets.
|Name||Matches||Overs||Wickets||Average||Five Wicket Hauls||10 Wicket Hauls|
In the series against South Africa and Bangladesh so far, the trio of Ishant, Shami and Umesh have taken 60 wickets at home while Jadeja and Ashwin have taken 39 wickets so far. Thus, in 2019, the tables have turned. In this period so far, Ashwin and Jadeja have taken a total of 269 wickets while the pacers have taken 150 wickets. The averages are simply awesome, with Shami, Bhuvneshwar and Umesh having an average of 21, 20 and 26 respectively. The 14 wickets shared by Shami, Umesh and Ishant in Indore was a sign that when it comes to India, it is no longer trial by spin. It is now trial by disciplined pace.
The scary part - India are currently without Jasprit Bumrah and if he comes back in the picture, the words of Indian skipper Virat Kohli will be true when he said, "Once Bumrah comes back into the team, we will have one heck of a bowling attack."