A bowling legacy at crossroads: India’s loss in 3rd T20I delivers stark reminder of huge void after Bumrah, Shami, Siraj

In the ongoing T20I series between India and Australia, the pitches have consistently favored batters across Visakhapatnam, Thiruvananthapuram, and Guwahati. Chasing has proven advantageous, making it challenging for teams batting first. However, the difficulty is bound to increase for bowlers if they deviate from their lines and lengths.

Scoring 21 runs off the last six balls is a challenging task for any side, no matter who brilliantly a batter is attacking the bowlers. For India, the situation was more favourable as Matthew Wade was on strike instead of Maxwell. But Prasidh failed to nail a single yorker, and it seemed he didn’t even attempt one. Wade capitalized on a well-placed short ball first-up, securing a crucial four and putting India on the defensive. The following deliveries lacked variety, comprising three short-pitched balls, an almost no-ball full toss, and an outside off stump, enabling Australia batters to dominate the right-armer with ease.

Interestingly, by the 16th over, the game seemed firmly in India’s control, with Australia requiring to score 68 more runs for victory. However, Arshdeep Singh, bowling the 17th over, conceded two sixes to Maxwell off the first two balls, eventually giving away 16 runs. Arshdeep’s performance in this series have been lackluster, as he bowled with an economy rate of 10.92; only Prasidh Krishna fares worse at 13.25. In the absence of star bowlers Bumrah, Shami, and Siraj, rested post the ODI World Cup, these two lead the Indian pace attack.
As Bumrah approaches 30 next month and Shami turns 34 next year, Indian cricket is on the verge of a bowling transition. Workload management has remained the need of the hour, particularly with recent injury crisis in the Indian setup. Bumrah returned from a long-term injury in August, while Shami is less likely to feature in another T20I. Siraj is also an all-format bowler, which makes the all-the-more important for the current crop of fast bowlers to step up.

However, the emerging generation appears unprepared to assume the mantle. In the Indian Premier League earlier this year, Shami – playing for the Gujarat Titans – led the wicket charts. He was followed by a 35-year-old Mohit Sharma, who is away from consideration across all formats for many years; he had picked an impressive 27 wickets in 14 matches.
That is not all. The bowling ranks – among Indians – further featured Piyush Chawla (who finished 4th in the standings overall); the spinner had recently lent his insights as an expert during ODI World Cup coverage, and secured 22 wickets in 16 matches in the league. Notably, Yuzvendra Chahal, who was dropped from the team right before the World Cup, stood fifth with with 21 wickets to his name. One has to scroll till no.11 in the Purple Cap standings to find a bowler from the current Indian squad, with Arshdeep Singh taking 17 wickets in 14 matches.

The veteran presence on the 2023 list suggests a lack of a pace battery capable of succeeding the current formidable trio of Bumrah, Shami, and Siraj. This potential void becomes all the more significant considering the havoc wreaked by this trio in the ODI World Cup, with Shami emerging as the highest wicket-taker. As the Indian bowling attack will inevitably see a change of the guard, the current situation poses great doubt on whether the emerging talent can fill the substantial shoes left by their predecessors.

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