Probably the best group of fast bowlers India have had

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Bowling coach Bharat Arun believes this current Indian bowling unit is the best they have ever had, and it is the consistency of the fast bowlers that has been the missing link. In the Adelaide Test, the Indian bowlers were made to bowl more overs than Australia in both innings, but they gave up 15 and 16 runs fewer.

Arun was asked if this was the best attack India have ever had. “So far yes,” Arun said. “I can say that not only now for what they did in Adelaide, but what they’ve done over a period of time in South Africa, in England and now in Australia. This is probably one of the best group of fast bowlers India has ever had.

“It’s a great feeling now from the Indian perspective that the fast bowlers are doing a great job, and it’s not just one or two, there’s a bunch of bowlers who are doing well. It’s not about doing well; it’s the effort and consistency with which we are able to perform over a period of time. That’s very encouraging.

“Whatever we have come here for and the gameplan we had, it was about being consistent in the areas we need to bowl. I thought the execution was perfect. I can’t ask for anything better.”

Arun took over the job in 2014, coming on board after the Test series loss in England when Ravi Shastri was appointed team director. He has since had a spell out, when Anil Kumble was the head coach, but has come back with Shastri being re-appointed. He has worked hard to get the bowlers to be consistent, which was an issue earlier on, and probably had to do with their fitness too. It showed in how they didn’t go chasing for wickets in Adelaide, but just kept bowling according to a team plan.

“Consistency was a big issue [on previous tours], and that’s something we’ve addressed with the bowlers,” Arun said. “It’s something we’ve really worked hard on. There’s one-per cent factors, which we insist on even during practice. The bowlers have responded exceptionally well. That’s showing dividends right now.

“Each time they come to the net and they bowl, they need to be aware of their plans and what they need to execute. Each time it’s a little different as to what they need to execute. We just test as to how far they’ve executed each time. That feedback allows them to be more consistent. I would probably put it across to the bowlers and ask what their plans are and as long as it’s in line with what we want to execute in the game, that’s perfectly all right.”

It is not all about pace, though. Arun was all praise for the lone spinner in Adelaide, R Ashwin. “Spinners mature a lot with age,” Arun said. “Maybe they’re like wine. Ashwin has been really good, and the last match he helped us to control – he gave us the control, bowling close to 90 overs for 147 runs and six wickets. You can’t ask for anything better. He allowed the fast bowlers to take turns, and he could control from one end. That’s the job he was interested in. I think he did that exceptionally well.

“Ashwin has been extremely confident. He’s aware of what he’s doing. I think it’s important that a spinner discovers the things he can do. For that to happen, a coach can give the necessary feedback because most often what the bowlers think they’re doing and what they’re actually doing can be two different things. If you can bridge that gap, that’s when the bowlers can grow.”

Shaw, Rohit fitness still uncertain

Meanwhile, there is no clarity on the fitness status of Prithvi Shaw and Rohit Sharma, nor has there been an official description of the injuries. Shaw was stretchered off the field after twisting his ankle during the warm-up game, and Rohit hurt his back during the first Test. A team spokesperson said late in the night in Perth on Wednesday, two days before the Test: “Both are undergoing treatment. We will get a better picture only tomorrow morning.”

The BCCI’s last update on Shaw said he had suffered a lateral ligament injury, and that he was ruled out from the first Test. About Rohit, the BCCI said he had “jarred his back” when he left the field during the first Test. During the Test, Shastri was quoted by SEN Radio as saying that he was hoping Shaw could return for the second Test, but there has been no update on that. In the expected absence of Shaw, M Vijay and KL Rahul should continue to open. If Rohit doesn’t make it, Hanuma Vihari will be the likely replacement.

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