As the game of cricket has broadened its wings, it perilously has shrunk the role of the bowlers over the years, especially in the slam-bang T20 version. One breed among them is fast bowlers and the Indian pitches have hardly been kind to them.
As IPL 2016 has wrapped up its league stage, let’s take a look at how some of the home-grown fast bowlers have fared this season. Who have impressed and who have not?
In the course of nine years ever since he made his debut, Ishant Sharma has struggled more with the white ball than with the red. Though not many expected him to lead the chart this season, the least that was expected of him was to lead the average-looking RPS pace bowling attack. But he has ended up playing only 4 matches and that clearly reflects his form. An economy rate of 9.86 and an average of 49 is a very disappointing return for the lanky Indian pacer.
Varun Aaron is a pace battery which diffuses in the name of power. He bowled the third fastest ball (149.32 kmh) of this IPL season, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. But for his mere 2 wickets in 8 matches for RCB, he has gone at 9.59 runs an over, which definitely any captain wouldn’t digest. Yet skipper Virat Kohli has backed him, only to be disappointed time and again.
Coming back from an injury lay-off is never easy, especially for a fast bowler. This and lack of match practice meant Shami was never at his best. He went for 9.69 runs an over for his 5 wickets for DD. Had he been at his near-best he would have lent some balance to their attack. But due to his inconsistency, Nathan Coulter-Nile had to be included which slightly affected the overall balance of the side.
The 37-year-old retired Indian fast bowler found a new vigour in his steps this season. He shouldered the skipper’s responsibility for DD effortlessly and led from the front as he didn’t hesitate to bowl the difficult overs for his side. 10 wickets with an economy of 7.71 isn’t bad at all for the ageing warhorse.
Injury curtailed his progress and ended his fairy-tale season, but Nehra must have enough reasons to feel satisfied of his efforts. In the 8 matches he played for SRH, he picked up 9 wickets with an average of 22.11 and economy of 7.65. The fact that he bowled at the death and in powerplay adds value to his figures.
After an impressive World Cup down under Mohit looked a spent force which saw him being dropped from the Indian side. But he has made a fine comeback with his IPL performance for KXIP. His 13 wickets at 8.39 runs an over may not look over the top, but some of his death bowling spells under pressure have just been too good to be overlooked.
For someone who made his international debut just a few months back and has played only 1 IPL game before this season, Sran has adapted pretty well. His 12 wickets have come at 7.77 runs an over and has ably supported the experienced trio of Bhuvi, Nehra and Mustafizur. The season with SRH bodes well for his future.
Having lost his swing and hence his place in the Indian side, Bhuvneshwar seems to have got at least some of his old tricks back. He has picked 18 wickets so far for SRH, having gone for 7.75 runs an over, and has bowled the most number of dot balls (128) along with McClenaghan. Warner gave him the new ball and also used him at the death, backing him to come good and Bhuvi hasn’t disappointed. Swing is his forte and he has thrived on it. He undoubtedly has been India’s most impressive pacer this season.
A bunch of medium pacers who could swing the ball did a decent job for their respective sides. The list includes the likes of the ever-consistent Dhawal Kulkarni, the old warhorse Praveen Kumar, the reliable Sandeep Sharma and the left arm pacer Sreenath Aravind. Surprisingly Ashok Dinda too had a decent IPL. In fact, Dinda and Praveen are the only ones to have bowled two maiden overs this season whereas Kulkarni tops the chart with three along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Team India pacers, Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah too impressed in patches if not consistently. Bumrah might have been tired after a long season whereas Umesh didn’t look like taking one extra step to be among the top.