India’s bowling coach Bharat Arun wants Indian speedsters to enhance their pace. In Arun’s opinion, this is a sure way of catching the Sri Lankan batsmen off guard. India have failed to win an overseas test series in the last 4 years and they would be looking to reverse that on this tour to the emerald nation. As per Arun, India’s bowling squad is promising with some bowlers able to generate 145 kmph consistently. But more important is sending down those deliveries closer to stumps and making the batsmen play. In Sri Lanka, conditions are nearly similar to India and the Galle pitch, where the first test will be played, is genuinely green unlike many green tops elsewhere in the world, which tend to become brown after a couple of hours on first day. With Kohli already having made his intent on playing 5 bowlers, there will be an added pressure on the bowlers to perform and Bharat Arun’s job becomes trickier.
There is lot of cricket press on Kohli’s reported statement on playing the test matches with 5 bowlers. The Indian captain’s belief prompted him to field 6 bowlers in the warm-up game against the Sri Lanka Board’s President XI. That move met with remarkable success on the second day as the recall bowler Ishant Sharma destroyed the top order with 5 wickets in the first 30 minutes on the second day and reduced the Lankans to 10/5. But it will be foolhardy to read too much out of Ishant’s heroics at this juncture. The Board President Team didn’t have Angelo Mathews, Kumara Sangakkara and some of their other regular batsmen. In any case, Kohli looks like taking his concept too far in the belief that Ravichandran Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh and Bhuvneshwar Kumar can play the batsmen’s role in the event of a top-order debacle. Ashwin has scored test centuries on two occasions and so has Harbhajan Singh and Bhuvneshwar Kumar has the batting technique that is quite adequate. Kohli’s five-bowler concept perhaps rides on the batting skills of these three men.
India’s bowling coach mirrors the captain’s mind; they want 20 wickets of the other side anyhow. Both Virat Kohli and Bharat Arun would have been delighted about Ishant Sharma creating havoc on Friday in the match against SLBP XI but Ishant is far from a consistent bowler. Last year, Ishant Sharma emerged as hero in India’s historic victory over England at Lords but the dip in his form later; cost him the place in test team itself. Bharat Arun’s reading on Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav is closer to reality. Bhuvneshwar Kumar had a great tour in Zimbabwe where he was able to move the ball both ways and Yadav is perhaps the most consistent of them all. Harbhajan Singh’s inclusion in the test team after a long lay-off can prove quite helpful. In addition, Amit Mishra can also lend the sharpness in the spin department. The question, however, is; why do they assume that everything is perfect with our batsmen?
The Indian cricket management is optimistic about India’s chances at Sri Lanka this monsoon. It is a great opportunity for Kohli and company to break the jinx of not winning an overseas series for the last four years. Besides the much touted 5-bowler strategy, another challenge will be India’s batsmen converting their home form into success in Sri Lanka.