MUMBAI (Reuters) - A rare 10-wicket match haul from a quick on home soil last week underlined India’s growing strength in depth in the pace department, a development that is giving captain Virat Kohli the right kind of headache ahead of the tour of Australia.
Umesh Yadav became only the third Indian paceman after Kapil Dev and Javagal Srinath to claim 10 wickets in a home test when he helped the hosts to a 10-wicket victory against West Indies in the second test in Hyderabad.
Kohli has had strong recent returns from the Indian fast bowling fraternity, which could be crucial to his hopes of winning the four-test series Down Under later this year.
Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah have all been part of the India’s pace attack in recent tests and Umesh had needed something special to boost his chances of making the cut for the squad to Australia.
“It’s a good headache to have... This is obviously something every captain would want to have,” Kohli told reporters after India’s 2-0 series win over the outgunned tourists.
“It’s good to have all guys confident and raring to go because four tests in Australia can be brutal because the ball doesn’t do much like England.
“You have to come in and run in all day, bowl in the right areas, with pace. So from that point of view, Umesh is right up there to be featuring in Australia because he’s got the pace.
“He’s got the fitness levels to run in all day to pick us wickets at crucial times and he gets good bounce as well.”
The likes of Shami, Ishant and Bumrah were impressive on recent tours of South Africa and England even if India lost both their test rubbers.
The trip to Australia will therefore be the last chance in 2018 for Kohli’s men to match their formidable home form with success abroad and show the world why they are the world’s top-ranked test side.
“It’s a great sign, as I said, to have four guys bowling so well who can pick up wickets. That’s something we want to keep as a consistent part of our team,” Kohli said.
“Obviously the batting is something that we’re learning from the last tour we want to improve on collectively.
“But bowling is something we need to keep as a major strength in order for us to feel like we have a chance to win a series when we travel away from home.”
Umesh’s efforts in Hyderabad was all-the-more laudable because he alone carried the Indian pace attack after debutant fast bowler Shardul Thakur managed only 10 deliveries before hobbling off the field with an injury.
“With Shardul breaking down so early, to bowl like that in both innings was a great effort on his part, and showed the kind of fitness level he has, to keep running in and bowling 140 clicks throughout the game and picking wickets, importantly, not just completing overs,” Kohli said of the 30-year-old.
“I think this was the standout performance in his career, and something he can build on.”
Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Nick Mulvenney