India's terrific success in all three formats of cricket in the last couple of years is rightly credited to the batsmen who piled up mountains of runs in all conditions. However, this success must also be credited to the pace bowlers who delivered effectively whenever called upon.
India's grand home season in which all visiting teams were routed convincingly wouldn't have been possible without the pacers who picked wickets with the new ball and kept the noose tight by extracting reverse swing. India's journey to the finals of the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017 became smooth thanks to the seam bowlers who bowled with venom and consistency.
The pace artillery of Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah is a massive plus for the team as they all are highly skillful bowlers and also offer plenty of variety.
However, the role of pacers will become even more crucial as India is set to play several overseas Test tours in the next couple of years and the 2019 World Cup is also not too far away.
Hence, India must keep their pace artillery equipped and fresh. Seam bowlers are prone to injuries and thus it is mandatory to have replacements ready. Taking into account all these factors, it is necessary to try new pace bowlers so that the pace department is fully equipped.
We take a look at the five most promising pace bowlers who deserve a chance in India's national team.
#5 Basil Thampi
Even after claiming only 11 wickets in 12 matches and registering an economy rate of 9.49, Basil Thampi won the emerging player award in the 2017 IPL.
The pacer was way better than what his numbers suggest and he was surely one of the finds of the tenth edition of IPL. Thampi's smooth action, effective pace and ability to extract help from flat surfaces impressed everyone and hence he was hailed as the lone bright spot in Gujrat Lions' doomed IPL campaign.
For his achievements in IPL, the Kerala bowler was rewarded with a spot in India A team for the tri-series tournament which included South Africa A and Afghanistan A. Although he failed to make an impact in the tri-series (two wickets in four matches), his fearless bowling approach won him several accolades.
His figures in first-class cricket are mediocre- 18 wickets in 20 innings at a strike rate of 77.1, but what sets Thampi apart is his consistent pace and nerveless bowling. He is an effective bowler during death overs as he has control over the yorkers and is generally unfazed by pressure or match situation.
Due to his tremendous potential, he is undoubtedly a long-term prospect for India.
#4. Mohammed Siraj
By fetching a whopping Rs. 2.6 crores in the IPL auction, Mohammed Siraj scripted another rag to riches story. A son of an auto rickshaw driver, Siraj spearheaded Hyderabad's bowling unit in the 2016 Ranji season and with 41 wickets was the second highest wicket taker in the tournament in pace department.
The pacer then justified his selection in IPL by claiming 10 wickets in six matches for Sunrisers Hyderabad. The 23-year-old has already created a strong impression with his smooth bowling action and an effective bouncer which is hard to negotiate.
He sent back nine Mumbai batsmen in the Ranji quarter-finals in 2016 and in IPL triggered off Gujarat Lions' sensational collapse with his four wicket haul. These two stand-out performances reflect his abilities.
In 12 first class games he has earned 49 wickets and his strike rate of 45.3 is impressive as well. If he stays injury free and bowls his probing lines consistently in the next few games, he is sure to break into India's national team.
#3. Siddarth Kaul
Afer claiming only six wickets in 11 games in two IPL seasons, Siddarth Kaul turned the tables in 2017 and emerged as Sunrisers Hyderabad's main bowling weapon. In 10 games he picked 16 wickets and that too at a strike rate of 13.37.
The impressive bowling stint in 2017 brought Kaul into the limelight but this was not the first time he had delivered with the ball. The right-arm pacer debuted almost a decade back in 2007/08 and since then has remained a strike bowler for Punjab. He has featured in 45 first-class games and has 163 wickets to his name.
The 2016 Ranji season was the breakthrough moment for him as he picked 35 wickets in eight games and was also drafted in Rest of India's squad for the Irani Cup. In that game, he picked eight wickets, including a five-wicket haul in the first innings and stamped his dominance.
In the recently concluded tri-series, he was a star performer for India A team as he claimed eight wickets in four matches. Thus, since the last couple of seasons, Kaul is in red-hot form and he can be certainly tested in international cricket.
#2. Jaydev Unadkat
After featuring in IPL for six years, Jaydev Unadkat finally found his mojo in 2017 as he spearheaded Rising Pune Supergiant's bowling department and ended the season with 24 wickets in 12 games. In the 2017 edition, he was accurate, showed immense self-belief and on most occasions found a way of outfoxing the batsmen.
The left-arm pacer was first spotted during the 2010 U-19 World Cup where he bowled with venom and was soon drafted into KKR's squad for IPL. He was regarded highly by Wasim Akram at KKR and in the same year, he made his debut for India in Tests at Centurion against South Arica.
But a poor show in his debut game pushed him back in the domestic cricket and since then he is representing Saurashtra as their lead pace bowler. He did play a few ODIs in 2013 but again failed to impress the selectors.
However, after his successful show in 2017 IPL, he once again looks in fine rhythm and can find a place in India's ODI or T20 squad. His experience of 57 first-class games and 181 wickets surely makes him a difficult name to leave out.
#1. Aswin Crist
Playing his fourth domestic season, Aswin Crist shouldered Tamil Nadu's pace department and became their go to bowler for all occasions. With 35 wickets he was their second-highest wicket-taker in Ranji trophy and also claimed 20 wickets in Vijay Hazare Trophy to finish the season as the leading wicket-taker.
The monumental show earned the pace bowler a place in India's U-23 team that took part in the Emerging Players' tournament in 2016.
Crist has taken 69 wickets in 23 first-class games and his average of 29.89 has been effective as well. His clean action and ability to extract help from the surface make him a dangerous threat.
Karnataka found it the wrong way, as they were routed for a paltry score of 88 at Visakhapatnam in the quarter-finals of 2016 Ranji trophy. In that game, Crist sent back six batsmen to dismantle the strong Karnataka batting line-up.
Thus, the pacer certainly has the skills that are required to be effective at the bigger stage and hence he deserves a chance in India's national team.