If you watched the Zimbabwe vs West Indies T20 WC Group 1 encounter earlier in the week and saw how West Indies pacer Alzarri Joseph pinned the Zimbabweans with hard lengths or searing toe-crushers, you would guess that quality pace is the currency to keep in the T20 World Cup. You look across the major teams in the event and you will find that each side is blessed with at least one bowler who can unleash speedy rockets at 140-plus.
India, since 2016, have possessed gold dust in the form of Jasprit Bumrah whose skill set and temperament allowed him to excel in the powerplay, middle-overs and death. But with him injured, India’s plans have gone awry. What’s worse, the guy who can compensate for speed in the form of movement, Deepak Chahar, is also out injured.
There is no one in the attack who can clock average speeds of 140-plus. Yes, Mohammed Shami showed he can challenge the speed gun in the one over he bowled in the warm-up game vs Australia, but can the pacer sustain it for four overs bowled at different stages of a game?
Speaking to Star Sports, former Aussie all-rounder Tom Moody gave his vote of confidence to Shami despite him not having enough mileage in his legs. “Shami may be short with some volume in his bowling, but that one over he bowled against Australia would have gone a long way with regards to not so much the physical side of things, but definitely the mental side of things,” Moody reckoned and said alongside Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Arshdeep Singh, it would be a formidable pace trio.
Batting great Sachin Tendulkar too had said last week that Shami can do a perfect job, although he felt that Bumrah’s raw pace will be missed.
Without any trace of disrespect to the skills of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel and Arshdeep Singh though, they are not bowlers who can intimidate batsmen with their pace. It’s ironic that these issues gained traction after the first round of the Asia Cup and after head coach Rahul Dravid, when asked to compare the pace attacks of India and Pakistan, commented: “Sometimes in the numbers, it will show that someone bowled at 145 kmph, someone at 147 kmph. Whether you are bowling at 135 or 145 or 125, whether you are swinging the ball or not, you are judged by results,” Dravid had said.
Sadly, for India, those results aren’t encouraging. They failed to defend more than 170 against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup as batters found the friendly pace in the end overs easy to attack. Six times in 2022, the bowlers have conceded over 200 in a T20I innings and in six games vs Australia and South Africa, the bowlers went for 200 or more thrice.
Bhuvneshwar has struggled while bowling in the death overs, where he goes at 10 runs per over or more. But he also gives you an economy rate in the powerplay that is under six. That’s an enviable number.
Arshdeep has been outstanding at the death. His left-arm angle and back of the hand slower ones into the pitch and wide pacy yorkers have strangled even the big hitters and that has meant an economy rate of under nine, which is surreal if you are asked to bowl between overs 16 and 20.
But, the hole left by Bumrah’s absence is telling. It makes you wonder if India missed a trick by not taking Umran Malik to Australia. The J&K speed gun is currently making batsmen hop around in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.


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By Dipak

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