There is no justice in this world; not for poor, not for deprived and especially not for a bowler in T20 cricket. IPL 9 was proving no different. It started with a bang for batmen and even scores of 170 and 190 were easily chased. Win the toss and chase the target was mantra of IPL 9. For the first time since the start of IPL, the team batting second won more than twice number of matches than the team batting first. Bowlers were playing part of villain who were supposed to be thrashed by heroes i.e batsmen. Even world class bowlers were toyed by rookie batsmen. Ashwin was honked for sixes by every batsmen who were supposed to be no one in cricketing world. How bad IPL 9 was for bowlers can be construed from the fact that Purple Cap holder of IPL 9 has least number of wickets compared to purple cap holders of all previous IPLs. SIxes and fours were raining, centuries were being made by batsmen and bowlers looked helpless and hapless.World seemed to be ending for bowlers. Pitches like Chinnaswamy and Wankhade were turned into graveyard for bowlers and then the final of IPL 9 happened.
IPL 9 final started on an unusual note, captain of Sunrisers disregarded the mantra of IPL 9 i.e win the toss and bowl first and it was even more surprising that he opted to do so on a Bangalore Pitch where any score can be chased. He didn’t care about stats screaming on his face that out of 59 matches played before the final, 41 has been won by team batting second. Everybody was surprised by Warner’s decision of batting first. Kohli even went on to say that Had he known that Warner would opt to bat first, he wouldn’t have come for toss. Amid all this, there was unflinching trust of Warner in his bowlers. He didn’t care that Kohli, the master chaser, is in ominous form, he didn’t care that RCB have most brutal batting line up waiting to pounce upon bowlers on a docile Bangalore pitch. He just didn’t care, he put trust in this theory of putting runs on scoreboard in knockout matches and then trusting his bowlers to defend it.
Soon after the start of match, it seemed certain that Warner’s decision to bat first will backfire as batsmen piled on runs and pitch looked yet another graveyard for bowlers. Although Sunrisers put 208 run on board but it was not safe considering the pitch and form of Bangalore batsmen. As soon as RCB started batting, it looked another day of injustice for bowlers. Gayle dispatched ball out of ground with ease and RCB completed 100 runs in just 9 over. Even after departure of Gayle, there was no respite for bowlers as Virat took the charge. When Virat Kohli departed in 13th over, RCB just needed 69 runs in 7.1 overs. It was by no means tough task in T20 cricket. This seemed just another day of injustice for bowlers, another day when bowlers are supposed to be playing role of villain and buried under the famous graveyard pitch of Bangalore. It seemed to be going all wrong for yet another day for bowlers and then something clicked, there was sudden change in momentum of game. AB de Villiers, the weapon of bowlers’ destruction was back in pavilion along with Watson and KL Rahul. Justice for bowlers seemed to be in reach and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mustafizur and Ben Cutting didn’t disappoint. In a pressure cooker situation, they kept clam and used slower balls, cutters and yorkers with precision. Their guile with ball was enough to stifle chase of RCB and cut short their dream of lifting IPL trophy in their backyard. Sunrisers’ bowlers grabbed victory not for only their team but also for all the bowlers who suffered at the hand of batsmen because of flat pitches; broader and powerful bats and the rules tilted in favour of batsmen.
What a day it was day to get the justice. On the big final day of IPL 9 , on a flat pitch, against most brutal batting line up, bowlers come triumph. Finally, in an era where bowlers are forced to carry only knives when batsmen have luxury of carrying cannons, justice was being served for bowlers, at least for a day. What a finish of IPL 9 it was.
In the movie ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,’ the protagonist Benjamin is born with the physical appearance of a 70-year-old man and gradually becomes a child. Like the protagonist Benjamin, Indian fast bowlers also have a reverse development cycle. They come into the team with a lot of promise, and somehow lose their bowling abilities in quick succession and disappear faster than they came. Unlike any other country’s fast bowlers, Indian fast bowlers don’t improve but they deteriorate with time.
Irfan Pathan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are examples of this reverse progression. They came in team as promising swing bowlers and wowed the world with their swing bowling in their debut year, but somehow in coming years, instead of improving their skill, they lost their ability to swing the ball. Bhuvneshwar Kumar fall was even steeper than Irfan’s fall.
in debut year
since debut year
| Avg/Eco after
*Avg = Runs/Wicket, Eco = Runs/Over
If we make a list of such bowlers, the list would be longer than Ishant Sharma.
One thing that is common among all these fast bowlers is that they never seem to have heard one the best clichés of cricketing world- consistency in line and length- and as a result, their erratic bowling often let down the captain, the team and the fans.
It’s true that cricket has decisively turned in favour of the batsmen; bats have become broader, heavier and more powerful; pitches are flat; fielding and other rules have also been tweaked in the ODIs to help the batsmen. But that can’t be an excuse for bad bowling performances, that, over the years, Indian bowlers have mastered. When bowlers around the world are improving their skill-set to outdo the batsmen, Indian bowlers are busy making past mistakes.
If someone asks question that how many times have you seen Indian fast bowlers bowling down the leg when captain has set a 7-2 off-side field, or how many times have you seen Indian fast bowlers bowling full length delivery, the very moment captain has set field for short-pitch delivery or vice-a-versa? Answer to each of the question is: almost every time. Captain Dhoni looks like a clueless man in these circumstances, not for any of his fault but because of the failures of his bowlers to execute the plan. A look at the stats of few fast bowlers shows how bad they have been in past couple of months.
Performance of bowlers since World Cup 2015
|Bowler||Career Avg/Eco||Match Played
since WC 2015
since WC 2015
Jasprit Bumrah is new kid on the block. He is not express like Shoaib Akhtar neither has perfection of Glenn McGrath nor has swing of Wasim Akram and yet he is a revelation for Team India. He has just played 4 match, so it would be highly inappropriate to even write his name in same sentence along with these great bowlers but his name is worth mentioning in this article because in last few matches he has shown Indian fast bowlers how to bowl.
In no way, I am raising hope that he can be new bowling sensation for India. He may end up as a bowling star that India is yearning for or may disappear after 20-30 matches like others in the past have disappeared but he has definitely caught the eyes of everyone in this short duration.
He is delivering “Yorkers” which is worth gold in ODI. Number of yorkers that he bowled in last four matches is more than number of yorkers bowled by Indian bowlers (barring Md. Shami) in a year or two. Indian fast bowlers neither mastered art of bowling yorkers nor they seem to be interested in learning the art. Dhoni is his last presser of 2016 Australian tour said that yorker is a delivery that should be in repertoire of every fast bowler. How they use and how often they use it is a different issue but they should possess skill to deliver yorkers.
Bowling Yorkers requires lot of effort and practise. Wasim Akram says that to bowl yorkers, bowlers need to be fully fit as they have to bend their back and put pressure on their body. It also requires a lot of effort in nets. With kind of fitness level that Indian bowlers have, no wonder they don’t seem to be interested in learning the art of bowling yorkers. They are just too unfit to even bowl. How often Indian bowlers get injured is also a mystery. Md. Shami, who was leader of the pack till World Cup 2015 and was doing well in that role, has recently joined that infamous list of injured bowlers.
Another lesson that can be learnt by Indian fast bowlers from Bumrah is how he sticks with team’s plans and how he bowls according to field that has been set by captain. In a recent T20 match against Australia, Bumrah went for few runs in Initial overs but he didn’t lose faith in his bowling and continued to bowl in same areas with some changes in fielding to save boundaries. He delivered well directed bouncers that hurried batsmen and caused problems to the likes of Steve Smith and David Warner who are in form of their life. On the other hand, when Indian fast bowlers were attacked in past 2-3 years, they bowled on both side of wicket and were further punished by batsmen.
Another aspect which has been missing is wicket taking ability of Indian fast bowlers. Bumrah did a decent job in opening spell and did very well in death overs. This could be a lesson to Indian fast bowlers who just wait for batsmen to commit mistakes to get a wicket whereas Bumrah created opportunity with right variations in his bowling.
Another area of concern for Indian bowlers is death over. They deliver far too many good length balls in death that are easily dispatched over the boundaries by modern day cricketers. Yorkers, bouncers, slower deliveries which has been missing over the years, have come in abundance since inclusion of Bumrah in the team.
Bumrah has played just 4 matches and this is just too small a sample to deliver any kind judgement on his bowling but it certainly exposes Indian bowlers and bowling coaches that India had in these years. Why couldn’t bowling coaches made these bowlers consistently bowl yorkers, wide yorkers, slower deliveries, well directed bouncers, loopy bouncers is a puzzle that needs to be solved, responsibilities for this needs to be fixed and some heads must roll. India can’t always rely on their batsmen to win the matches for them, bowlers need to step up and match the best in the world and for that bowlers need to follow natural progression not the reverse progression that they are following these days.