Indian bowlers’ showing during the five-Test series in England was one silver lining for the No.1 Test team in an otherwise disappointing tour.
After picking up 60 wickets in three Tests against South Africa earlier this year, Indian bowlers claimed 20 wickets in three of the five Tests in England. Out of the 82 wickets taken in England, the pacers had shared 61 scalps with Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya and Umesh Yadav claiming 18, 16, 14, 10 and 3 wickets respectively.
As the much-anticipated Border-Gavaskar Trophy is fast approaching, legendary Pakistan speedster Wasim Akram has said that the Indian bowlers won’t enjoy the same success Down Under. Akram reckons that the visiting fast bowlers will find it tough to adjust their length on the drop-in pitches of Australia.
“I think the Indian bowlers will have it tough. To start off, there are a couple of drop-in pitches in Adelaide, Melbourne, they are not bouncy tracks any more. Brisbane will have a little bit of bounce. I think at Perth they are playing in a new stadium, I don't know what sort of pitch they have over there. I think whenever India, Pakistan or teams from the sub-continent tour in Australia, the batsmen also struggle but now with the batting tracks, Indian batting is very consistent,” Akram told NDTV.
“Virat Kohli is leading from the front as a batsman and as a captain. It's the bowlers I'm worried about in Australia, the length where they bowl it, especially when the Kookaburra gets old after 20-25 overs, that's when the Australians take advantage,” he explained.
When asked to name the X-factor for India in Australia among the bowlers, Wasim replied: “I have seen in Australia even (James) Anderson struggles, if you have 130-135 pace, the ball doesn't swing. The SG balls swing and then they reverse swing, Duke swings in England all day long. But in Australia if you don't have pace, you probably will struggle. However you never know. It's a new Australian side. It's not the same Australian side we have seen in the last 30 years... it's new... they are under pressure, they just got hammered by Pakistan here in the UAE, and they got hammered by South Africa in Australia, so India definitely have an edge there.”
Australian Cricket is at their all-time low after the ball-tampering saga led to severe bans on Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft. Smith and Warner are in their eighth month of the 12-month suspension, while Bancroft will be eligible to return in December after serving his 9-month period. No wonder, Akram feels it is the best chance for India to win their maiden Test series on Aussie soil.
“Yeah he's got the best chance, inexperienced young Aussie side, go all out and of course if they get early wickets that's where the struggle for the bowlers is. I just worry about bowlers from India, Pakistan when they go there (Australia), sometimes they get excited with the bounce on the pitches, especially at Brisbane. So the idea is to pitch it up, don't bowl short, short of length delivery, because they will be expecting that,” he remarked.
Virat Kohli and company haven’t faced Pakistan in red-ball cricket yet. In fact, India and Pakistan haven’t played Test cricket since 2007.
When asked if the cricketing world is missing a classic rivalry, Akram said: “Yeah probably not, I mean playing at neutral venues in one-off one-day games in ICC tournaments you can't tell. If they have a proper series, either in Pakistan or either in India, then both the teams will know what pressure is all about, both on and off the field, especially with the media nowadays.”
“They talk about everything on and off the field because they have a job to do. In our time, it was only the pressure from the crowd, you know from home hardly any television channel with live cricket you know with one off news channel but now it's a different ball game altogether,” he concluded.