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Opinion

Star Indian bowlers being exposed by Australia

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Expert
15th January, 2020
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India must change their ODI attack for the remaining two matches against Australia due to several of their key bowlers being consistently found out.

Star paceman Mohammad Shami and spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Ravi Jadeja all have poor recent records against the Aussies, while rookie quick Shardul Thakur took 0-43 from five overs as the tourists flogged India in Mumbai on Tuesday.

The second-ranked ODI team in the world, India’s enormous success in this format in the past few years has been built on two key planks: the dominance of their extraordinary top order of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli, and the consistent ability of their bowling unit to blanket opposition batting units.

The effectiveness of India’s attack has meant their batting line-up has not needed to be hyper-aggressive like England, who do not possess an elite attack and so need to crunch huge scores to compensate.

India have the best win-loss record in the past five years despite being only the fourth-quickest scoring team in that time, with an average run rate of 5.71 per over, behind England (6.19), Australia (5.84) and South Africa (5.83).

They have not needed to constantly make massive totals to be a commanding side because their quicks have been effective in the power play and at the death and their spinners have run amok in the middle overs.

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With the ball they have had all bases covered. Jasprit Bumrah (ODI bowling average of 22), Shami (25), Kuldeep (25) and leg spinner Yuzevndar Chahal (26) have formed the bedrock of a wonderful and varied attack.

Jasprit Bumrah and Virat Kohli

(Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Now, however, their bowlers are being picked apart by Australia, who have won four matches on the trot in India.

After being thumped in his last two ODIs against the green and gold, Chahal was replaced by Jadeja. But in the past five years left-armer Jadeja has played 14 ODIs against Australia for a return of eight wickets at 87.

While he remains economical, Jadeja poses next to no wicket-taking threat, which has thrown India off balance after years of relying on their spinners to make regular breakthroughs in the middle overs.

Kuldeep and Chahal made their names doing just that. Only one year ago that pair were the third and fourth-ranked bowlers in the world – the best spin combination in the format by a mile.

Chahal since lost his spot, while Kuldeep has been worked out by the Aussies. In his last ten ODIs against Australia the left-arm wrist spinner has averaged a whopping 48 with the ball.

Although Australia have been fragile at times against spin over the past decade, their current line-up is stacked with fine players of slow bowling. Aaron Finch, David Warner and Steve Smith are three of the best players of spin in the world, while Alex Carey, Marnus Labuschagne and Ashton Turner are also comfortable against it.

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David Warner bats against India

(AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

India’s spinners struggling for impact has heaped pressure on quicks Shami and Bumrah to excel.

Shami may have a fantastic career record, but in his past ten ODIs against Australia he has the awful figures of ten wickets at 55.

Even the ultra-consistent Bumrah – the best white-ball quick in the world – has laboured of late. In his past five ODIs against the Aussies he has averaged 44 with the ball, while his economy rate has been 5.80 runs per over, way above his career mark of 4.53.

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India do not have one bowler who’s enjoyed recent success against Australia. They should make two changes to their attack for tomorrow’s second match in Bangalore: Thakur should make way for express quick Navdeep Saini and Chahal should replace Kuldeep.

The home side need a major lift from their highly rated attack if they are to fight back and win this series.