When India took the field against New Zealand in the 1st ODI of the three-match series in Mumbai, Kohli & Co were up against a bowler of a similar mould, Trent Boult. The left-arm pacer troubled all the Indian batsmen, ending up with 4 wickets for 35 runs from his 10 overs.
Only a week ago when Aamir Khan, on a show, asked Virat Kohli who is the best bowler in the world up to the task of challenging his invincibility, the Indian skipper replied, “In the recent times, Mohammad Amir of Pakistan.. He is in the top two or three bowlers in the world and the toughest bowlers I have played in my career.” Aamir is a left-arm fast bowler who can swing the ball both ways at a decent pace. Five days later, when India took the field against New Zealand in the 1st ODI of the three-match series in Mumbai, Kohli & Co were up against a bowler of a similar mould, Trent Boult. The left-arm pacer troubled all the Indian batsmen, ending up with 4 wickets for 35 runs from his 10 overs. His scalps included both the Indian openers: Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.
This has been pretty much the story with the Indian cricket team over the last couple of years. You name a left-arm bowler and they have struggled against him. Apart from Boult and Aamir, Australia’s Mitchell Starc has caused a lot of problems for the top order and so did Bangladesh’s, Mustafizur Rahman. In the recently concluded T20 series against Australia, tall Jason Behrendorff ran through the Indian batting order with his pace and bounce.
Indian openers, in particular, have struggled the most. Before the New Zealand series, Rohit Sharma was dismissed by a left-arm fast bowler 11 times in ODIs since January 2014 while Dhawan gave away his wicket 9 times. The Indian team also struggled against England’s Tymal Mills earlier this year leading to his million-dollar signing by RCB in the IPL.
The main reason why the Indian batsmen are finding it tough to negotiate the left-arm fast bowlers is that since the retirement of Zaheer Khan in 2012, they haven’t faced quality left-arm seamers in the net that often. There was a time when India had Zaheer, Ashish Nehra, Irfan Pathan and RP Singh, four good left-hand fast bowlers in the side but suddenly, there is a scarcity of this skill in the country.
It forced the team management to take the services of Rajasthan’s Aniket Choudhary in nets during the Test series against Australia earlier this year. It was a move that board believed will help the Indian bowlers to prepare against Starc. In the latest bid, the team has turned towards ‘God of cricket’ Sachin Tendulkar’s son Arjun who was seen bowling in the nets ahead of the 1st ODI. Even Arjun generated enough pace to disturb the Indian batsmen.
— BCCI (@BCCI) October 20, 2017
Not just this, the Indian batsmen have found it tough to score against left-spinners as well. They have maintained an economy rate of 5.31 against Indian batsmen since January 2014 which is impressive in modern day cricket.
If India want to win the series against New Zealand and continue their dominance, they need to find an answer to this problem soon.