Since Joe Dawes took charge as India’s bowling coach, he has had to cope with a lot of criticism, following a string of poor performances. The fast bowling resource looked crippled as India lost overseas, and at home to England. The spinners too did not impress.
The home series against Australia has given hope that India’s bowling stock is not bare. After the IPL gets over, India will venture abroad for the Champions Trophy in June and then the Test series in South Africa towards the end of the year.
Dawes feels the bowlers have risen to the occasion in the series against Australia and showed promise for the future. “These are pretty exciting times. There is still lot of work to be done. Going by their performance against Australia, they will be up for the challenge in overseas conditions,” Dawes told Mail Today in an interview.
“There are three to four spinners playing Tests and then there are some guys sitting outside. Ravindra Jadeja has extended that list.” Fast bowling had been the area of concern after Zaheer Khan’s injury, but Dawes said Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have taken good strides. “In the fast bowling department, Ishant and Bhuvneshwar stepped up in the last series. There is Umesh coming back from injury. They will enjoy conditions conducive to fast bowling when they play abroad, although it will be a challenge.”
While the spinners were lauded for their matchwinning efforts against Australia, talented Bhuvnshwar and Ishant were not mentioned in the same breath. And it is here that Dawes feels their efforts need to be acknowledged.
“If you look at the number of overs they bowled and the number of wickets they have to show in the series, the contribution of the two fast bowlers is no less. They are guys with different skill set. Bhuvneshwar can swing the ball and Ishant can reverse better. In fact, they did the hard work for the spinners to work their way and get the wickets. They deserve more acknowledgement than what they actually got.” Bhuvneshwar was certainly a valuable find for the Indian team as he got the important early breakthroughs.
Ishant showed that he is learning the craft with the old ball. His incisive spells got him seven wickets to Bhuvneshwar’s six.
Queenslander Dawes, himself a fast bowler of repute, who lived under the shadows of Michael Kasporwicz and Andy Bichel, knows the grind of bowling on unresponsive wickets.
Injuries have been a major issue with the Indian fast bowlers. Dawes knows that it is something that is not in their control. “It is a nature of the fast bowling. It happens everywhere and not just to the Indian bowlers,” he said.
Currently Dawes is focused on the IPL as coach of Kings XI Punjab, who opened their campaign with an eight-run win over Pune Warriors on Sunday.
“We have got a good bowling attack that can bowl in any condition. We have all bases covered. Parvinder Awana was among the top bowlers last year, and then we have experienced bowlers in Ryan Harris, Praveen Kumar and Azhar Mahmood, who is a crafty bowler. In the spin department, we have Piyush Chawla and David Hussey.” “ In any form of cricket, it is important to take wickets. If you can take two to three wickets in the first 5- 6 overs you have a good chance of winning the game,” Dawes said.
And true to his words, Kings XI bowlers attacked right from the word go in their first match, bowling the home team out for just 99.