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Are India’s bowlers still in T20 mode? | Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2014/15

Related Link: India’s Tour of Australia 2014/15

It is true that run-rates have become far superior in Tests over the last decade since the advent of T20 cricket, and before that the growing popularity of one-dayers. Even by that standards though, India’s bowling efforts over the first two Tests in Australia have been pathetic, and that is to say the least. While they have failed to pick up wickets at regular intervals, the ease at which the Aussie batsmen have managed to score runs against the Indian bowling has been downright embarrassing for the side. The manner in which Mitchell Johnson bludgeoned the Indian bowlers was something else.

Above photo: Varun Aaron (L), Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav

Varun Aaron Photo

A closer look at the economy rates of the Indian bowlers over the course of the two Tests played thus far will give us a clearer picture of the bowlers’ struggle. Varun Aaron has been the biggest culprit of all when it has come to leaking runs wholeheartedly. The fast bowler conceded close to five runs in both innings at Adelaide. He claimed two wickets in the first innings at the Gabba, but gave away runs at a rate of 5.57. What’s worse, this was after bowling as many as 26 overs. In the second innings, he bowled only 5.1 overs, and was thrashed at a rate of 7.35 runs per over. It’s one thing giving runs for wickets, but Aaron has taken things to the very extreme.

Mohammed Shami, of whom much was expected, was also lackluster in the Adelaide Test. His economy rate was 5.00 in the first innings and 3.8 in the second. The lack of wickets meant India went for Umesh Yadav in the Brisbane Test. He did claim five wickets in the Test, but his economy rate was again hovering between 4.00 and 5.00. India’s lead bowler Ishant Sharma had good control at Adelaide, conceding less than four runs in both innings. At Brisbane though, he gave away five runs an over in the first innings, which hurt India in a big way. As for the spinners, Karn Sharma was expensive in both innings at Adelaide. Ravichandran Ashwin did better at Brisbane, but even he did not have much wickets to show.

Contrast this with the Aussie bowlers, and the stark difference is evident. None of the frontline host bowlers conceded five runs at over in Adelaide – Peter Siddle was the most expensive with 4.7 in the first innings, and Nathan Lyon gave away 4.4 in the second. All the others maintained economy rates in the region of 3-4, or even lower. The story was similar at the Gabba as well. Josh Hazlewood claimed five wickets on debut, and yet conceded under three runs an over (Varun Aaron, are you reading?). In the second innings, Johnson claimed four wickets at under four an over. Again, none of the Aussie bowlers conceded five runs an over. Lyon was in the region of 3 and 4. Shane Watson did even better, giving away under three runs an over.

We wonder whether India’s bowlers are still in T20 mode!