New Delhi, Nov 14: Indian pace attack has been a revelation this year during overseas tours but tougher conditions in Australia will make it a very challenging series for the fast bowlers, reckons former speedster Ashish Nehra.
Nehra, who was a part of the Indian squad that drew 1-1 during the 2003-04 series in Australia, felt the current attack “has the ability” to succeed but conditions will be different than what they got in England and South Africa.
“Australian team is going through a massive restructuring and this is India’s best chance without doubt. We have the bowling attack to beat them. But we need to be mindful that conditions will be much tougher Down Under where the wickets will be flat and weather would be on warmer side,” the 39-year-old Nehra told PTI in an interview.
“In Australia, you will get extra bounce but there will only be lateral movement till the kookaburra seam doesn’t flatten. It won’t be like England where the ball swings all day. Once you get adjusted to the bounce, batsmen can hit you all day,” said Nehra, who has played 17 Tests and 120 ODIs apart from 27 Twenty20 Internationals.
The hard Australian grounds can always pose fitness challenges for speed merchants as the feet takes a lot more pounding than England or New Zealand.
“In England, if your fast bowler takes a couple of wickets in a six-over spell, the captain is tempted to give two or three more overs in lure of getting couple of more wickets in midst of a good spell. In Australia, it may not be such a good idea all the time in sultry conditions,” he said.
According to Nehra, it will be Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and one between Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav, who will be starting in Adelaide.
“I don’t see Bhuvi starting in the first Test at least. He can struggle a bit with the old kookaburra as it will neither swing or seam unlike Dukes or SG Test,” Nehra opined.
Nehra said that Umesh Yadav’s supreme fitness and good skill sets should make him an asset in the Australian conditions.
“I still believe that Umesh is not a finished product after eight years but someone who has incredible skill sets. He is a strong lad and the fittest among all Indian pacers. A testimony to that is his performances in Indian conditions when he can reverse the 65-70 overs old ball at a good speed. You need both skill and strength for that. He should feature sometime,” Nehra said.
The former left-arm seamer said that Mohammed Shami’s fitness in England impressed him a lot.
“What I liked was Shami bowling with fire in the second innings of the fifth Test at the Oval. Now that takes a lot of doing. I hope he can keep it up in Australia also if he starts from the first Test,” he observed.
Ishant Sharma’s stamina will also be required as his fitness is what makes him “special”, said his former state and national team team colleague.
“If you look at Ishant Sharma, the 87 Tests that he has played is a testimony to his fitness. Often people will look at the wickets column (256) but bowling 35-40 overs for more than decade requires special skills.
“Let me be honest. Whether it’s me or Rudra Pratap Singh or S Sreesanth, we had more skills as fast bowler than Ishant. I had my share of injuries and RP also had fitness issues. Sreesanth was a different case altogether despite blessed with enormous skills. But then Ishant has been fit for so long, so let’s give credit where it is due,” said Nehra, who is still an unofficial ‘go to’ Man for all premier fast bowlers in the country.
It will be Bumrah’s first Test tour of Australia and Nehra is confident that Australians will find it difficult to play him.
“Jasprit Bumrah is much more skilful red-ball bowler than what he is perceived to be. His yorkers will come in very handy with old kookaburra. Any batsman, who has not played Bumrah before can find it difficult to counter the awkward angle that his delivery creates.
“And in England, I found out that he can now get the ball to straighten consistently after pitching. So Bumrah is not a one-dimensional bowler,” he concluded.