India's pace potency could decide their fate in England

MUMBAI Sun Jul 6, 2014 2:38pm IST

Ishant Sharma catches a ball during a practice session in Dambulla August 12, 2010. REUTERS/Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Files

Ishant Sharma catches a ball during a practice session in Dambulla August 12, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Files

Related Topics

Inside the Peshawar school

Inside the Peshawar school

The aftermath inside the Pakistan school where at least 132 students and nine staff members were killed by Taliban gunmen.  Pictures 

MUMBAI (Reuters) - As India prepare to take on England in what promises to be a hard-fought series, the potency of a bowling attack in which Ishant Sharma is the only paceman to have played a test on English soil could prove to be the decisive factor.

India were humiliated 4-0 the last time they toured England in 2011 but the hosts appear vulnerable ahead of this five-match series after a 5-0 Ashes whitewash in Australia at the start of the year and a more recent home series defeat against Sri Lanka.

Zaheer Khan's 18 wickets were the key to India's last test series triumph in England with a win at Trent Bridge earning them a 1-0 victory in a three-match series seven years ago.

However, with the 35-year-old wily left-arm paceman missing from the touring party, doubts have emerged over India's ability to bowl England out twice in a test match.

Rahul Dravid, who led India to the 2007 series victory, believes the team have the batting strength to match their opponents, leaving it down to the bowlers of either side to make the difference.

"I think the key is going to be the ability to take 20 wickets," Dravid, who is mentoring the Indian team on the tour, told reporters at Lord's this week.

"When we won the series here in 2007, Zaheer was exceptional but he got good support from the other guys as well.

The spinners, who can run through the opposition on surfaces conducive to slow bowling, will receive little assistance from English pitches with the onus resting on the seam attack to get a bulk of the wickets needed for a win.


Out of the six frontline seam bowlers, the lanky 25-year-old Ishant is the only one to have toured England before.

Ishant caught the imagination of Indian supporters with his fiery spells against Australia captain Ricky Ponting at Perth in 2008, during which he beat the right-handed batsman on numerous occasions and dismissed him in both innings.

Despite going on to play 55 test matches, his career has stagnated since his exploits at the WACA, disappointing those who marked him out as the country's next bowling leader after Zaheer.

He has taken 164 test wickets and been impressive in patches but has also been derided for his failure to lead the bowling attack in the absence of the injury-prone Zaheer.

While Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami, the most likely pace duo to start alongside Ishant, are able to swing the ball both ways - a crucial skill in English conditions - they have only played six test matches apiece.

Ishant's role will not just be restricted to taking wickets this time but also guide the young attack with his experience.

"It is Ishant who has played the most number of matches and he has been around for a while," Zaheer told ESPNcricinfo in an interview. "It is time he steps into that role.

"For Bhuvi (Kumar) and Shami, it is their first (England) tour so they will look to Ishant and (bowling coach) Joe Dawes for input to perform in those conditions."

(Editing by John O'Brien)




Global Economy

Global Economy

EU leaders agree investment package to boost economy.  Full Article 

Oil Prices

Oil Prices

Brent steady below $60, heads for 4th weekly decline as oversupply persists.  Full Article 

Chinese Economy

Chinese Economy

China revises up size of economy in 2013 by 3.4 percent.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

Google aiming to go straight into car with next Android – sources.  Full Article 

Reuters Poll

Reuters Poll

BSE Sensex to hit 32,980 by December 2015  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage