India VS New Zealand:  Men in Blue need more pace, bowling all-rounders

    The Indian cricket team is amidst a rebuild of sorts after a disappointing T20 World Cup. The focus is to bring new talent into the area of bowling all-rounders

    Hardik Pandya is the first and only choice regarding the batsman who can bowl at a decent tilt Hardik Pandya is the first and only choice regarding the batsman who can bowl at a decent tilt

    But the team will also be geared toward competing in the 2023 ODI World Cup in India. 

    And if there’s one area of concern India need to address badly, it is a lack of fast-bowling all-rounders in the squad. 

    As of now, India have more options in terms of spin-bowling all-rounders. Ravindra Jadeja is out injured but is the first choice when he’s back. Then there’s Axar Patel and Washington Sundar as well. 

    Besides these three, the team is also looking to groom Shahbaz Ahmed for the same role. But there’s one problem – India’s team only have a place for at most one spin-bowling all-rounder. 

    Yet the lack of fast bowling all-rounders is jarring. Hardik Pandya is the first and only choice regarding the batsman who can bowl at a decent tilt. 

    Beyond that, the number of options is stark – to the point that India doesn’t even have a direct like-for-like replacement for Hardik Pandya himself. 

    There’s Shardul Thakur, currently featuring in the series in New Zealand. But even though he is more of a bowling all-rounder, and in recent times his reputation as a bowler hasn’t been the best. 

    But the options even beyond these two are thin. Venkatesh Iyer is another name that comes to mind, but he’s been discarded as an option recently. 

    Yet even if he is considered an option in the future, the fact is that his bowling is a bit hit-and-miss. And there’s the fact that he can’t precisely express pace or wily with his variations. 

    So the matter is obvious – India lacks genuine pace-bowling all-rounders. And it does seem like this is an issue that needs readdressing in more ways than one. 

    A couple of decades ago, when India’s pace bowling battery was depleted, to say the least, there was a genuine focus on building an army of pacers from the grassroots level. 

    The MRF Pace Academy has a mixed legacy of sorts, but it cannot be denied that it did help popularise being a pace bowler in India. And something similar could be needed to address the lack of pace bowling all-rounders. 

    Don’t forget that England – the defending world champions in white-ball cricket – have at least three top-quality pace-bowling all-rounders in their ranks. 

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Well done guys. Great to see the energy in the field and the bowling. SURYA 🙏🏻. <a href="">@hardikpandya7</a> <a href="">@surya_14kumar</a> <a href="">@BCCI</a> <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NZvIND</a> 🇮🇳 <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Ravi Shastri (@RaviShastriOfc) <a href="">November 23, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

    Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, and Sam Curran are three critical bowlers for the England team, but they are also more capable of holding their own and even winning games with the bat. 

    That’s before you consider that they have Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone as spin-bowling all-rounders. Modern-day cricket requires teams to have not just one but multiple all-around options. 

    India have that in the spin bowling all-rounders department. Now they need the same in terms of their pace bowling all-rounders too.