The bowling unit comprising of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin have managed to take 20 South African wickets in both the test matches. One man who is chuffed to see young Indian bowlers bowling with such venom is former Pakistani paceman Shoaib Akhtar. The 42-year-old believes that the signs are very encouraging for India but there is still a long way to go before we start calling ourselves a fast bowling nation.
Although India conceded the 3 match test series with South Africa with the 135 run defeat at Centurion, there were some big positives for Kohli and the team management to take out of the 1st two matches. While the batsmen have failed repeatedly on this tour, it has been the Indian bowling unit which has impressed hugely.
Shoaib Akhtar himself has on many occasions left batsmen struggling to find their breath with his express pace. He holds the record for bowling the fastest delivery in world cricket and has taken 178 test wickets. Speaking about the Indian bowling unit, Akhtar said,
“Five years ago, I thought Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Shami will be the ones to lead India’s pace department on overseas tours. But that did not happen with Aaron having fitness issues, Yadav being good in patches and erratic other times, like Wahab Riaz.”
“The thinking that Kohli and the team management seem to have, they will only get better. India have always been known for their batting but nowadays you are seeing the emergence of fast bowlers too but still I would say a long way to go,” he further added.
The fact that India lost both matches from a winning position just shows how much they need to improve to win a full series in overseas conditions. According to Shoaib Akhtar, the main blame for the two defeats should firmly be placed on the shoulders of the batting unit, who have looked clueless while facing the likes of Morne Morkel, K Rabada, Vernon Philander and Lungi Ndidi.
Speaking about the performance of the batting unit, The Rawalpindi Express said,
“Yes, they did not play well. The batsmen should have applied themselves better. It is, maybe, a result of a bad combination. Not taking wickets at the right time, not scoring enough runs. I am quite impressed with Hardik Pandya as well. It is just the batsmen who did not apply themselves on pitches that were not so tough to bat on.”
Speaking at the end, Akhtar was confident that Indians would have learnt from their mistakes and will come back much stronger in the 3rd test match.
“They have a chance to turn it all around. I would look at it like that. To lose a series like that could be the best thing that could happen to them. Before England, they have to utilise the time in the right manner, get the practice right. Lot of improvement is required in batting. England is a good team at home but you cannot write off India,” he concluded.