Since the turn of the 21st century, Indian cricket has witnessed a steady rise. The rise has been a meteoric one to say the least. In today’s era, fans are willing to give it their all in order to support the men in Blue. A big reason behind this rise has been due to the improved performance of the Indian side. The Indians have performed exceptionally well in atleast two formats, if not all three.
The “Fab 4” of the Indian batting are often credited with accolades and praises behind India’s ascent in the ultimate form of cricket – Test cricket. The batsmen have given their best shot, in taking Indian cricket to Golathian heights.
But, the bowlers also deserve the due credit for all wins. After all, if a side is to win a test match, then it is the duty of the bowlers to pick 20 wickets. And picking 20 wickets in an overseas test is far from an easy task. The likes of Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and Anil Kumble have been like rare diamonds for Indian cricket. Their bowling efforts are a key reason behind the Indian team’s winning rate.
However, due to some fine bowling performances by the first choice Indian bowlers, a lot of talent has been ignored in the domestic arena. Now that team India is struggling in test matches, we are actually realizing the value of disciplined bowlers. The current crop of bowlers, look completely pale and tired. They struggle to even harass the batsman, leave alone taking 20 wickets.
The motive behind penning this article down is to bring those bowlers to light, the Top-5 under-rated bowlers of India in recent past –
5. PRAGYAN OJHA:
The slow left-arm spinner from Hyderabad does not have the rub of green on his side. Ojha has been a star for India ever since he made his debut. On Indian rank turners, he has wreaked havoc along with R. Ashwin. The visiting teams have been intimidated by his sharp spin and turn. But the worst part is that despite doing so well in tests in India, he has never played a test outside the subcontinent.
The BCCI mentions that Ojha’s batting lets the team down. But what is the use of a bowler who can contribute 10-20 runs with the bat, but fails to strike at regular intervals? Having Ojha outside the subcontinent would have been a very good thing for the Indians. His stint for Surrey was extremely fruitful and he turned the ball viciously even in England. Ignoring Ojha for test matches outside the subcontinent was a poor choice indeed.
4. ASHISH NEHRA:
The left-arm pacer from Delhi was completely hard done by the BCCI. He was superb in the 2011 World Cup semi-final against arch rivals Pakistan. But as fate would have it, that was his last game for India in any format.
Nehra was an ideal ODI bowler. Test cricket was never his forte, and he himself knew that and stuck to ODIs. His career can be divided into two segments. From making his debut in 2001 to 2005, he was a regular member. But then with other seamers such as R.P Singh and Sreesanth emerging, Nehra was ignored.
On the basis of a great show in the IPL, Nehra made a comeback to the team and was a regular in the ODIs from 2009 to 2011. His best performance was in the 2003 World Cup vs. England. His spell of 6-23 was magical indeed. From 2009-2011, he was India’s leading wicket taker in ODIs. But then suddenly, he was dumped. It’s fair to say that his services were dearly missed for the next few years.
3. ISHWAR PANDEY:
The Madhya Pradesh swing bowler has been phenomenal in the Ranji Trophy. A bowling average of 25.46 just seconds that statement. Over the last couple of years, Pandey has time and again made an impression in the First Class arena. He was even picked in the Indian squad for the South Africa, New Zealand and England tests.
While the other bowlers were bludgeoned for runs, Ishwar just warmed the benches. It was a shameful sight to watch Ishwar just sitting inside the dressing room without even getting a game. He was benched for three consecutive tours.
His ability to swing the ball both ways is really good and can trouble the batsmen big time. The Indian side must give him a game at any cost as he has been great at the domestic level.
2. AMIT MISHRA:
What more does a bowler need to do if he has 26 wickets in the last 11 innings he has bowled in at an economy rate of 4.67? This has exactly been the situation of Amit Mishra.
Mishra’s career has had a start and stop roller coaster so far. He plays a few games and is then benched throughout the series. Mishra has been up to the mark with whatever chances he has got. In ODIs, his wrist spin is simply too good for the batsmen to negate. The leggie from Haryana has been among the wickets in ODI’s in whatever games he has played. His bowling would have been really useful in the World Cup, had he been picked.
1. PANKAJ SINGH:
During the English summer of 2014, there was a special mention given to an “Unlucky Pankaj”. The person was none other than the Rajasthan pacer Pankaj Singh. Towering over six feet and with muscular shoulders, Pankaj has all the qualities of an ideal fast bowler. He has been in the domestic scene for more than a decade now.
After relentlessly bowling day and day out, he was finally selected to play for India for the England tour. He made his much awaited debut in the third test at Southampton. In his first spell itself, a sitter of Alastair Cook was put down by Ravindra Jadeja. Yet, Pankaj did not lose hope and bowled his heart out. Then against Ian Bell, a dead plumb shout for LBW was ignored by the umpire. Singh was criminally robbed of two wickets.
He was wicket-less in the first game and could get a wicket only in the second game. As cruel fate would have it, he was dropped for the Australia tour. Pankaj must be given a chance to prove as he has the talent to succeed. The rest lies in the hands of the BCCI.
Had these bowlers played for India more frequently, the results would have been much better. However, it is never too late and the BCCI can surely wake up from its sleep.