Over the past many years, one of the biggest banes of the Indian team has been its inability to take 20 wickets on overseas Test tours. Several visiting Indian teams in the past have suffered badly abroad because of the ineptness of their bowling unit. There have been a few good pace bowlers and spinners here and there for India, but as a cohesive bowling unit, they have generally failed on away tours.
Things are changing gradually and significantly. The current Indian Test team, which is engaged with England in a tense 5-match Test series in their own backyard, appears to have a potent bowling unit at its helm. In fact, they have performed in England and earlier in South Africa this year, one can say with some confidence that this is the best bowling line-up India has had in a long time in Test cricket.
Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Ishant Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin and Hardik Pandya together have captured 53 wickets in the ongoing Test series against England. And there are still three innings left to go.
More than the numbers, it is the sheer quality and variety that has been displayed by these bowlers which have been noticeable. Each bowler is different from the other and each brings something fresh with him. Bumrah has been an absolute revelation with his pace and awkward lines and is proving to be a match-winner. Ishant is really evolving into a lead bowler for India and has been very tight these days.
Shami, although inconsistent at times, can be an incredibly tough bowler to handle when in rhythm and especially with the old ball. Then there is Pandya who, despite the aspersions against him, has proven to be a good fourth seam bowling option and keeps snaring crucial wickets.
Ashwin has now shown that he is a reliable spin bowler in overseas conditions. With 10 wickets so far in the series, he has bowled with great control and his variations and the ability to make the ball curl and dip has troubled the batsmen regularly.
And lest one forget, India's most in-form bowler, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, is out injured from the current series. One can only imagine the amount if depth he would have added to the Indian bowling unit with his presence in this series.
It is because of this bowling unit that India has been able to put pressure on England and was able to push South Africa as well. With tours to Australia and New Zealand lined up in the coming seasons, India would hope that this bowling line up continues its form.
Looking at the way things are shaping up, things can only become better for India once Bhuvneshwar returns. The onus will now be on Virat Kohli and the team management to ensure that the bowlers remain fresh and ready to take on the challenges ahead.