Made ‘em Grovel

Jasprit Bumrah bowled a length ball angling-in and Pat Cummins was forced to play at it. A hint of away swing caused the ball to take a thick outside-edge off Cummins’s bat and Pujara completed the catch at first slip. Cummins walked back after a hard-fought 63. India was a wicket away from victory in the Boxing-Day Test. In the following over, Ishant Sharma banged one short and Nathan Lyon, on-strike, only managed a top-edge off the hook-shot. The ball soared up in the air and Rishabh Pant completed a simple-catch. A loud roar, from the Indian fans, was heard in the stands as celebrations began in the middle. India had won the third Test of the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy by a comprehensive margin of 137 runs and led the series 2-1. It was fitting that two Indian pacers picked up the last two Australian wickets.

Much has been written and said on the performance of the Indian fast-bowlers in the ongoing Test series between Australia and India and as the series has progressed the praises being showered on the Indian quicks have only increased.

Prior to the Test series, there was a lot of chatter surrounding the nature of the Australian tracks and how challenging would it be for the Indian batsmen to negotiate the pacers in the home side. After all, traditionally the Australian quicks have been lethal in Tests on home soil. However, it has been quite the different story in the series so far. The Indian pacers have outperformed their Australian counterparts in the three Tests that have been played so far and their performances are right up there among the best by Indian pacers in Australia. The following chart illustrates the same.

(Each circle represents the performance by Indian pacers in Test matches in Australia. The larger the circle, the more wickets picked up the fast bowlers. Hover over a circle for more details.)

(Source: ESPNCricinfo | Data Updated Till Aus v Ind, 3rd Test, 2018, Melbourne)

Indian pacers, in the second test of the ongoing series at Perth, picked up 18 wickets, the most by Indian quicks in any Test match in Australia. However, the performance of the Indian fast-bowlers in the recently concluded Boxing Day Test has been the best when compared to their outings in the past.

With 20 wickets in six innings at an average of 14.65, Jasprit Bumrah has been the stand-out pacer Down Under. Pat Cummins, with 14 wickets at an average of 20.57, stands a distant second. Both Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma have done well with 14 and 12 wickets, respectively, with their averages in the mid-twenties.

 

In terms of their overall numbers the present troop of Indian quicks in Test matches feature among the country’s best so far. The following scatter plots every Indian Test pacer, both retired and playing.

(Each circle represents an Indian pacer in Test matches. The larger the circle, the more wickets picked up the bowler. The yellow circles represent the retired players and the blue circles show the current players Hover over a circle for more details.)


(Source: ESPNCricinfo | Data Updated Till Aus v Ind, 3rd Test, 2018, Melbourne)

While Kapil Dev leads the pack with 434 wickets, Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Shami have picked up their wickets at a quicker rate.

Jasprit Bumrah picked up 9 wickets in the Boxing Day Test

2018 has particularly been a good year for India’s quicks in Tests. Bumrah, Shami, and Ishant feature on the list of the top wicket-takers of the year. South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada has been the best in 2018 with 52 Test wickets at average of just above 20 and a strike rate of 38.

The momentum is with India ahead of the final Test at Sydney on Thursday, 3rd January. With its quicks in top-form and a lack-lustre Australian batting line-up, India will certainly fancy their chances in the fourth Test. The Australians will have to bat out of their skins and bring their best with the ball if they hope to draw level in the series.

India has never won a Test-series in Australia. With the Border-Gavaskar Trophy retained, India will aim to create history in the fourth and final Test Down Under.

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