It was an underwhelming debut series in Australia for Barinder Sran. He only managed to take three wickets at a below-par average of 56.66 and conceded 6.45 runs an over.
But in India’s three-match ODI series against Zimbabwe, it was a completely different scenario, the left-arm seamer picked up 4 wickets at 24.75, with an economy rate of 4.12, and surprised everyone with a new weapon – an inswinger that troubled every Zimbabwe batsmen. Ahead of the T20I series which begins in Harare on Saturday, Sran said he had consciously worked on to get his wrist position right.
“It’s the difference in the conditions [between Australia and Zimbabwe],” Sran said. “I changed the seam position a bit, made some changes to my action because I’m looking to swing the new ball. So I’m not putting in too much effort because if I do that, I lose my wrist position and it reduces the swing.”
In Harare, one of the most prominent signs of his recent progress was the ability to move the ball around during his early spells and that too very sharply. It’s quite clear that he has upgraded from short of a length in Australia to pitching the ball as full as possible to make his swing more effective. On several occasions, the Zimbabwe top-order looked absolutely clueless against his incoming deliveries. But despite the poor techniques showed by the opposition, what Sran has done is pitch more than 75 per cent of his deliveries in his early spell right in the batsman’s half.
Sran was not at all consistent with his line and length in Australia, and his bouncers largely remained ineffective. But in Zimbabwe, he has focused on sticking to a fuller length. “[In Australia], I had a problem in my shoulder because of which I couldn’t perform to my potential. So I was under some pressure,” Sran said. “I didn’t have much IPL experience either then, I had played only one IPL match, and even in the Ranji Trophy, only 10-11 matches. Still, everybody supported me and that felt good.”
Though he rarely got the chance to bowl with the new ball during his IPL spell for Sunrisers Hyderabad this year, he did have the opportunity of picking advice from not just Ashish Nehra but Trent Boult too. He was frequently seen in their company whenever the latest IPL champions were at practice. It’s during one of these encounters that Sran got the advice to work on his seam position.
“Nothing much has changed, because, in Australia, there was a huge difference in the kind of wickets. It was quite hot there and they were good batting wickets, whereas here, there is some help for the bowlers. I have just been focusing and working on those areas where I’m weak, like when I was trying to swing, the ball wasn’t coming back in, so I worked on that regularly. In the IPL too, [Ashish] Nehra paaji and Bhuvi [Bhuvneshwar Kumar] bhai were with me, they taught me seam position and supported me in all aspects from the beginning. For two-three days, I went to Chandigarh as well and met my coach Amit Uniyal and worked with him.”
The recent performances in Zimbabwe have been really a step forward after his initial struggles in Australia, but Sran also acknowledges that he needs to improve more before he can be considered ready for Test cricket. “To get there, I need to be consistent and bowl one line and length,” he said. “I need to improve a lot, I need to improve my pace and fitness level. I will work towards achieving these in the next season.”