From feared to fragile: India’s inexperienced pace attack faces transition test in WI

PTI, Jul 10, 2023, 7:32 PM IST

Dominica: The unparalleled success of India’s Test team on away tours over the past decade was largely because of its all-weather pace attack but the same can’t be said about the fast bowling resources available for the two-Test series against the West Indies.

Transition is inevitable in any team, but considering the uncertain future of injured star Jaspirt Bumrah and the absence of Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav from the Tests in the Caribbean, it has been hastened in India’s case.

Virat Kohli made a conscious effort to field five bowlers in his tenure as captain and the results that followed made his unit arguably the best Indian team of all time. India’s pace attack became the envy of the world.

However, after back-to-back defeats in the World Test Championship final, it is a good time to plan for the future. The skilful Shami might last another WTC cycle but the recent form of 35-year-old Umesh Yadav doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. The team would love to have the services of Bumrah but his body might not be able to take the rigours of multiple formats when he returns to action.

Veteran Ishant Sharma, who was part of the feared pace attack that brought glory to India, has already been phased out and the lack of India A tours over the past couple of years has left the team management with few options.

Mohammed Siraj, who has been India’s most potent pacer of late, will lead the pace attack in the West Indies after playing 19 Tests. Should the team look at 31-year-old Jaydev Unadkat, who made a comeback after 12 years in Bangladesh last year, as a long-term option? The other fast bowling options include injury-prone pacer Navdeep Saini, who is making a comeback after featuring in the iconic series in Australia in early 2021, and uncapped Mukesh Kumar, who will be fighting out with the former for a place in the playing XI.

Another pacer who could have been tried in the Caribbean was Prasidh Krishna but he is undergoing a long rehab like Bumrah following a surgery after a stress fracture.

The 24-year-old Shivam Mavi, who has done well in Duleep Trophy, is the only one who has age on his side but he is not part of the squad.

India, who have not lost a Test series to the West Indies since 2002, are expected to steamroll their opponents this time as well but a much tougher examination awaits them in South Africa later this year.

An A tour will precede that assignment and the team management will be hoping to find more options by then to carry out the transition.

India’s squad for West Indies Tests:

Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shubman Gill, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Virat Kohli, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), KS Bharat (wicket-keeper), Ishan Kishan (wicket-keeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel, Mohd. Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Jaydev Unadkat, Navdeep Saini.

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