It was 14th January, 2018. India Under 19 was playing Australia U19, in the Under 19 world cup in New Zealand. Kamlesh Nagarkoti, a lean and lanky Indian Fast bowler was spitting fire with his 140kmph+ deliveries. Steve Waugh’s son, Austin Waugh was on strike. After not being able to adjust to the pace of Nagarkoti, he perished finally as he was beaten for sheer pace. This was what australian fast bowlers used to do to Indian batsmen. Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi geared up to create havoc in almost every match of the under 19 world cup, and they even touched 150kmph many a times. These scenes were not common in world cricket. Indian cricket was never blessed with fast bowling talents right from the U19 levels. But here was India in 2018, winning matches riding on the back of their quickies.
In the senior cricket too scenes were not too different. India fast bowlers picked up more than 50 wickets in a 3 match test series in South Africa. In the recently concluded test series in England, Indian fast bowlers were faster than the English quickies. They picked up more than 60 wickets. In a series where India lost 1-4 to England, it was the fast bowlers who brought India back in the game most of the times. In white ball cricket, Jasprit Bumrah is the world’s number one bowler in ODI cricket. Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar, the famous 2 Bs of India, are deadly in ODI and T20 right from the start. They are arguably the most settled new ball bowlers in the world. They are even more effective in the death, with their pin point Yorkers and other variations like the ‘knuckle ball’ and the hidden slower ones, and brilliant cutters. What is even better is that Indian fast bowling is not restricted to the 2 Bs. Umesh Yadav has always been super quick, bowling consistently over 140kmph. But now he has more control. He was brilliant in the ODI series against New Zealand, and showed his magnificence for RCB in IPL too. He’s moving the ball at an ominous pace, and is a very tough customer to handle. Hardik Pandya, apart from his big hitting skills, has been great with the ball too. Md. Shami has been out of the ODI side for quite some time, but he’s as sharp as ever in traditional form of cricket. Ishant Sharma has always been a regular in Indian test side, but recently he has come of age as a fast bowler. It’s a late bloom for him, but nonetheless it has made the Indian attack more potent. Shardul Thakur, Siddharth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmad and Deepak Chahar have been brilliant in the IPL and the domestics, and are a great prospect for the Indian team ahead.
Two or three years before, India never had this strong contingent of fast bowlers. So how this drastic change occurred? The strategy began after 2015 world cup. The National Cricket Academy in Bangalore has started special training camps for fast bowlers more regularly. Special attention is being given to the fitness of the fast bowlers as they are more prone to injuries. However, the major change has come because of the attention being given to junior fast bowlers. India has always been serious with its under 19 cricket, and that investment has given great benefits to India at the senior levels too. Ranji Cricket is way more competitive than it was before. However, IPL is the game changer in this aspect. Tense situations against world class players has been immensely helpful to the Indian fast bowlers, as they learn a lot and have developed into more mature cricketers. The result can be seen in players like Jasprit Bumrah, who was discovered after he played for Mumbai Indians.
The development and coming of age of Indian Fast Bowling is one of the biggest stories in world cricket, and this ‘silent revolution’ has already started to roar.