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Cricket news - The driving force behind India's recent fast-bowling success

The Indian pace attack now has the ammunition to blow over oppositions and stand shoulder to shoulder with any other fast bowling unit

When India toured Australia in the past, especially familiar are those days I used to wake up early to watch the games on the television. As it turned out often, I would only turn out disappointed at the scores. It was fairly common to see India three or four wickets down, with batsmen busy ducking and weaving away from the fiery short stuff that was being ditched out. Mostly, India would end up on the losing side, and a lot would be written about their inability to handle the short ball. God knows what was not tried by the Indians at practice - synthetic balls, plastic balls, wet tennis balls, even bowling machines on tables to help get accustomed to bounce - to try and get better at countering bounce, swing and seam. But none worked as well as was envisioned.

One thing that was constant though was that the batsmen were always facing bowling that was perennially harder than what the opposition batsmen were subjected to. So was it the batting that let India down, or the bowling? Maybe a bit of both, after all one feeds off the other.

But now, those days are long past. The most improved part of Indian cricket this past decade has been the fast bowling department. The attack now has the ammunition to blow over oppositions and stand shoulder to shoulder with any other fast bowling unit.

The work of the current Indian bowling coach, Bharat Arun, has to be credited in this regard. I have worked a lot with Bharat Arun from my teenage years, and having seen him from close quarters, the way he himself has developed, I believe, has played a huge role in shaping this current bowling unit.

Working as a bowling coach need not be so much about altering actions or tuning run ups all the time. It could even be small things like guiding the bowler to keep looking at where he wants to land the ball during his run up.

I remember my last season as a professional. I was leading Hyderabad and Arun was the coach. Mohammed Siraj made his first-class debut that season and Arun played a huge role in moulding the exciting youngster. All he said to Siraj that season was to start outside off stump. Arun knew Siraj's natural tendency was to bring the ball back in to the right hander and about the angle that he produced because of his delivery point.

It might seem a very normal piece of advice, but to be able to see such a thing and simplify it for a young bowler takes a lot of expertise. That simplicity, communication and a reciprocating trust is what is needed for a successful bowling unit, and it can be seen in this attack.

Just for like a batsman knowing his scoring areas, realisation and understanding one's self as a bowler has been a key area and it has been well recognised by Arun. Bowling to a plan and backing one's strength has played a big part in the process of becoming a successful bowler.

It is obvious too that skipper Virat Kohli has supreme confidence in his support staff, and that actually flows down on to his quicks. And why not?

It doesn't matter which format you are playing, pace always has its value, giving the batsmen less time react while also inducing some fear. India have largely been at the receiving end of the short ball tactic from opposition bowlers, but that has now changed. Whether the tactic worked to the T in Australia and England is a whole different story, but something inside me rejoiced when their batsmen were peppered by Indian pacers.

Of course, all of this hasn't happened overnight. It has been a process for which the BCCI and the NCA among others should be credited. The front-line pacers may already be among the best in the world but there is a steady stream coming through that helps keep the main ones on their toes and betters the team's bench strength. The management of these bowlers, especially with the amount of cricket being played, has become a vital part of the international set up. India have been able to pull this off quite well, too.

It seems the immediate future is secure as far as fast bowling is concerned. Here's hoping for the same to continue for a while longer. I'd be up early watching matches in Australia with more anticipation and joy than was the case previously.

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