Is India becoming a bowling team?

In recent years, India have been a batting team. With the likes of Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman, Sehwag and Yuvraj performing well, India’s strength has always been its batting (at least on paper).

Now, as the change of guard is happening, we have the likes of Ishant Sharma, Sreesanth, RP Singh, Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel breaking into the team and bowling quite well, while the batting is starting to look a bit wobbly.

Consider today’s ODI against Australia. The Indian team of 3-4 years ago would have easily got the 204 runs needed to win, but we were bowled out for a paltry 152 today. But then again, the Indian team of 3-4 years ago would have probably conceded a lot more runs. India’s bowlers did their job well today – it was the batsmen that let her down. It is a pattern that is starting to emerge of late. In fact most of India’s overseas test wins of late have come on the back of good bowling performances – the batsmen have just been playing good supporting roles.

So, I wonder if India is slowly changing from a team where its strength has been its batting to one whose strength is its bowling. The bowling is still underrated, though and a lot of people were questioning its ability to cope against Australia in Australia before the series began. The bowlers proved them wrong and performed brilliantly – but they were let down by some poor batting in Melbourne and a second  innings collapse in Sydney.

So, is India becoming more of a bowling team? And is that a good thing??
My answer would be Yes to both…



25 responses to “Is India becoming a bowling team?

  1. Some points.

    Yuvraj is not in the same league of class batting as the big 3 (Sachin, Dravid, Laxman) or big 4 (if you include Ganguly).

    Yesterday, would have been an ideal situation for Dravid to come at No. 5 in a one-day to steady the innings.

    Selecting 5 bowlers in this match was a mistake.

    Sending Irfan Pathan at No.3 was another bad move.

    Not impressed with Dhoni’s scapegoating Rohit after the match for the run-out and sticking up for Yuvraj after repeated failures.

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  3. I strongly feel Yuvraj should not play the next game. He should be rested till he gets his confidence back.

    He has failed too many times now. Compare this with someone like Karthik who didn;t perform in 2 tests against Pak and then never got to play for India again.

    Having said that, Yuvraj is a boon to the Indian team, But he needs to get time to sit and analyze whats going wrong with him.

    I also feel that Raina should a chance ahead of Manoj Tiwary if yuvi is dropped.

    Raina has more experience than rookie Manoj and Raina’s domestic record this year is very good.

  4. @gnbmdr: Not surprisingly, I disagree with almost everything you said 🙂

    It is good that India went with 5 bowlers. It is perhaps because of this that India had a target of 203 on that pitch!

    Yuvraj looked good yesterday. He should and will play the remaining games.

    I agree with you that Dhoni let himself down when he blamed Rohit Sharma for the runout.

  5. Team India is getting better at self-flagellation and saathi–demise of tendulkar equals death of the husband!
    In the tests, they sacrificed Dravid to protect Yuvaraj–now , in the ODIs, they are hell bent on sacrificing I Pathan to protect FIVE batsmen–if they can be called that.
    Pathan is freezing, holds the bat tight and needs to consult the optometrist geoff Lawson–the man needs needs glassesas he is missing 9 out of 10 balls.

    Dhoni and Uththappa are insulting the game by inventing shots–and in that process, new ways of getting out

    Yuvaraj has just one shot–hoiking over to Dean Jones’ ‘cow corner

    He got out pulling a short wide ball from outsid off stump to long on fielder—instead of clobbering over the point for 4 or even over the short boundary.

    may be the bookies know more than I do.

  6. The game was India’s till Yuvraj Singh gifted it to the Aussies with a short arm pull straight down Stuart Clark’s throat. And, by the time the Uthappa show came to centerstage, there were only tailenders left in the side. Wonder how long we have to watch the Irfan Pathan at No. 3 [IP3 Zoo] strategy fail before sense prevails. Can someone tell me when Irfan Pathan went in at that spot and made India win a easy/tough game comfortably, so it helps me move on? Thank god the likes of Amarnath, Azaruddin and Dravid played in earlier eras.

  7. Srikanth Mangalam

    Needless to say, it was disappointing to see India lose. Having said that, I would certainly live with this loss if the team brushes off the defeat and plays as agressively as they did in the first half of the game again against Sri Lanka. While it seems to come with the territory, it is unfortunate that Dhoni’s decisions are scrutinized to such great detail. By and large, I am very impressed with his captaincy, it is refreshing to see an Indian captain rush up the bowler and do nothing but share a joke and smile and walk back. He may make some strategic mistakes ( I do not personally that he has committed any sins!!), but his approach to the game is what we need. The best thing that has happened to Indian cricket in the last few months has been the nature of captaincy, both in tests and one dayers.

    Let us (and I include the media and all other pundits) not kill the spirit that Dhoni is bringing in by such agonizingly painful scrutiny of his decisions.

    Oh, by the way, I did not see any problem with playing Pathan in that position. It may not be a bad idea to switch Rohit Sharma’s position with Uthappa though. Rohit Sharma does have the big shots to finish off an innings…

  8. To answer the original question, I think India is becoming a bowling team. It’d be nice if we could get our act together and become a batting team as well. You do need both, you know 🙂

  9. I guess the title perhaps indicates the problem with cricket thinking in India.

    You don’t want to be a bowling team or a batting team. You want to be a cricket team.

    The game consists of four activities

    Get those right and the results look after themselves.

    The debate India should have is not either /or but how do we get all four things right.

    There is a fifth thing actually, Team spirit

  10. Well said Pav.

    And if the team can go on to win the Twenty20 championship without excellence in either batting, bowling, fielding, captaincy or team-spirit, imagine what the possibilities are! Limitless, I’d have thought

    Hmmm. 🙂

  11. Hi Pav,

    You forgot the most important ingredient that keeps a particular country on top in all forms of the game

    It is called,”total soul destruction of an opponent with pure and unadulterated intimidation, on and off the field”

  12. Thanks mate.

    Glad to to be of help but I thought India did win the T20.

    I know it’s not that important (The T20) and abit of a lottery but it was an achievement and a good recovery after the disappointment of the 50/50 World Cup

    But I suspect we’re both being sarcastic.

    I return to my original point. The debate should be about how to get the whole package.

  13. Hi govinda,

    If that’s what you believe then more fool you.

    Firstly it isn’t true and secondly it wouldn’t work

    Extended success comes when you have the full deal. Without it then there will be occaisonal moments in the sun and false dawns but no lasting success

    A test match is called a that because that is what it is. A remorseless examination of every facet of a players game and yes that does include the most important area on the field. The one between the players ears.

    What do you think makes Tendulkar the exquisite player he is? He has the talent sure but the key is his mental toughness. Both to absorb the game day pressure but also the expectations of a nation.

    And before you get too carried away there is world of difference between sledging which is OK & mindless personal abuse which isn’t.

    You want to hear some classic sleding. Try Boucher to the young Zim keeper talking about his average pt Sangakarra to Pollock.

  14. Pav,

    I do agree that “ideally” you need to be a good cricket team excelling in everything – batting, bowling, fielding etc, etc…but that seldom occurs.

    If you do look at recent history, the teams that have dominated the game like the West Indies of the 80s (Holding, Marshall, etc) or the Aussies (Warney, McGrath, etc) more recently were built on very strong bowling. It doesn’t mean the batting was poor. It just means that the bowling was better than thier batting.

    You need to take 20 wickets to win a game, no matter how many runs you rack up on the scoreboard and that is why I believe that it is better to have a “bowling” team than a “batting” team.

    Your batting still needs to support your bowling though – and sadly India is struggling a little bit in that department now. Hopefully, they can come out of it…

    (Actually, so is Australia – in this one day series, it is the bowlers who have bailing them out. But that is another story)

    Captaincy, IMHO is sometimes (but, not always) over-rated. Give me the Australian team (or the Windies of the 80s or the invinsibles), and even I can win a game or two 🙂

  15. Blogesh,

    Yes it is an ideal and seldom happens that is why great teams are great.

    But it must be the objective. To be content with either batting or bowling guarantees mediocrity

    Sure you’ve got to take 20 wickets but for that to happen there has to be enough runs in the bank that are scored quickly enough to enable the bowling to do its stuff. It’s the eternal battle between Yin & Yang

    I think perhaps you under rate the importance of captaincy.

    Yes Bradman was lucky. He always had himself in the team, and yes if you haven’t “got the cattle” you can’t win but (and isn’t there always a but) Captains set the the tone & manage the team.

    The great West Indies teams functioned because of Clive Lloyd’s discipline. I have always felt that Pakistan would not have won the world cup with out Imran Khans leadership.

    Steven Flemming has got better results out of an ordinary team (some times I think he is the best I have seen) A few years ago against a rampant Australia with McGrath, Warne et al all in their prime he snatched a draw. The tactics, strategies, discipline, leadership & courage inspired his team.

    Kumble’s captaincy in the recent series has been first class & you can see his character in the way the team played.

    I think MSD on the field has pulled the right levers (bowling changes,field settings)with the problem being the order of batting. Perhaps on the field he is able to give rein to his instincts. I suspect he is “guided” on the batting order.

    Why bat an opener at seven and an all rounder at three?

    Reading what I have written & your post it is clear great teams cover all the bases and no matter how good you are in one area is doesn’t make up for a fundamental flaw elsewhere.

    I just love the many facets to this game.

  16. Speaking of Indian bowlers, the under-19 World Cup opening pair of Sangwan and Kaul looked promising as well.
    The Indian fast bowling revolution is well and truly here.

  17. Ishant Sharma’s team.

  18. Dhoni now claims that there is no difference, if Pathan bats at 3 or 8. And goes on to say that the Kookaburra ball does a lot in the first 12 to 15 overs and it gets easier for the batsmen afte that! If so, why not reverse the batting order completely, instead of just one change with Pathan at 3. Wouldn’t be a spectacle and world’s forst innovation seeing I Sharma and Munaf openoing the batting with Sreesanth at 3, Bhajji at 4 and Tendulkar at 11!!!!!

  19. I see it didn’t take long for the Aust captain to revert to his antics when
    giving Harbijhan a big serve when Harbijhan was leaving the wicket after
    getting out. If that had been an Indian
    giving an Aust a serve you wouldn’t have heard the end of it by the Aust media.Talk about double standards.
    Ponting should have been Hauled over the coals for yet another immature outburst,Who’s running Aust Cricket,
    Ponting or CA.

  20. Hi Vandy,

    Firstly I don’t know what was said for all we know Pointing could have said well bowled in the local dialect & HS misheard him. I did see HS & Pointing have a longish chat while shaking hands at the end of the game so perhaps that is it.

    As it would appear there is not tape recording I guess the Sydney defense should apply.

    I would find your outrage more credible if I had seen anything condemning a certain player,s action in claiming a catch off Clark & then spitting as they left the field. Not only was his behaviour wrong but the umpire was right!!!!

    By the way it did attract comment in the coverage but it was not played up. I suspect that the media outlets figure they have had enough controversy.

    As to who is running CA. That’s obvious. It’s the BCCI!

  21. govinda iyer
    That is exactly what Bradman did once when his team was sent in to bat on a sticky wicket (wicket were uncovered those days). He sent sent his #10 and 11 to open, probably came at 7 or 8 to smash a hundred!

  22. theblackirishman


    Like your thought process & views. Specially
    “As to who is running CA. That’s obvious. It’s the BCCI!”

    Ha! ha! Good one 🙂

  23. Paddy Subramaniam

    Generally speaking, Dhoni handled the bowlers quite well in the match against Australia last Sunday. The only exception was when he failed to press home the advantage by not bringing on Inshant Sharma after Bajji had got rid of Hopes . At that stage, Australia had lost 6 wickets and their intent would have been to build a partnership without taking much risks. Ishant Sharma had 3 overs left and the aggressive field placements would have brought a few more wickets and possibly contained the score to under 150 – 160 runs. Moreover, as he is a raw talent his main weapon is the aggression he brings to the attack which is severely compromised when the field setting is defensive in the last 5 overs.

  24. chris hutchinson

    There’s no doubt that India’s bowling side is on the up and up and the reason is superb technique and more importantly big bodies.

    The Brett Lee’s and Irfan are one thing but big men such as Clark, Sharma and Munaf bring more to the variety of decks particularly in Australia (although none of them are good for he last five years – too stodgy for Aussies).

    India’s balance between pace and spin is getting to where it needs to be whilst Australia, for example, are finding that without a topline spinner that attack management is deteriorating.

    Indian must ensure that their traditional politicking in selection does not ruin the in roads they have made.



  25. The only guy to be completely befuddled in all these discussions about Indian cricket must be Badrinath!! He must be wondering what else he has to do to beat the likes of Rohit Sharma, Majoj Tiwary etc to the India team besides having a much better domestic record. He is also the captain of South Zone (and Tamil Nadu) currently and has been one of the most consistent batsmen in the domestic circuit over the past 3 years. If this year goes by without making it, I see him as a classic case for ICL…and that surely will be Indian cricket’s loss!!

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