When one talks about the Indian team, the first thing that comes to mind is their explosive batting order. The Indian batsmen have, time and again, overshadowed their bowling counterparts. One of the major reasons that the country is predominantly known as a batting nation.
The likes of Gavaskar, Tendulkar, Dravid and Kohli have always been more decorated and followed rather than Kumble, Zaheer or Harbhajan. However, the contribution of the bowlers can never be underestimated as they are the ones who restrict the opposition, making the batsmen’s job easier.
As Virat Kohli and his troops get ready to face the Windies in the latter’s backyard, we take a look at 5 such Indian bowlers who lead the pack of wicket takers in the West Indies.
None of the players who feature on this list is a part of the Indian squad this time around. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin who occupy sixth, seventh and ninth positions on this list will be taking the field during this series and will look to break into the list at the end of the series.
#5 Ishant Sharma
The lanky Indian pacer played his first ODI in the Carribean in 2009 and featured in 10 more matches after that. Ishant has picked up 11 wickets at an average of 37.27 and an economy rate of 5.80.
Striking at 38.5, Ishant’s figures can be considered average. His economy is worst amongst Indians who have picked up at least 10 wickets in West Indies.
Presently, the 28-year-old Delhi bowler is a regular in the Indian test outfit but the selectors have kept him out of the scheme of things as far as ODIs are concerned. He also made news recently for going through an entire IPL season wicketless, representing the Kings XI Punjab franchise.
#4 Amit Mishra
Another bowler from the capital region of India, Amit Mishra is fourth on the list with 11 wickets. What makes Mishra’s achievement stand out amongst the rest is that he has played the least number of matches. He has taken as many wickets as Ishant in half as many matches.
An impressive strike rate of 27.2 coupled with a fantastic economy rate of 3.98 and a miserly average of 18.09 are indicators of the value the leggie brings to the team. His best of 4/31 was a match-winning spell.
However, the Indians have always preferred Ashwin and Jadeja as their two front line spinners which did not help the 34-year-old Mishra’s cause.
#3 Harbhajan Singh
‘The Turbanator’ occupies the third spot on our list. Bhajji is one of the most experienced bowlers when it comes to bowling in West Indies as he has played more matches than the others, returning with 13 wickets in 17 appearances.
The offie bowled with an economy rate of 4.30 but his average was on the higher side, exceeding 47. A strike rate of 66 meant that he played the role of a run curtailer rather than the wicket taker.
After being replaced by Ashwin as the ace spinner in the lineup, the 36-year-old spinner has found it tough to break into the Indian squad. He also made news recently when he posed questions on the selectors’ choice of the team for the Champions Trophy as he was neglected yet again after a successful IPL stint with the Mumbai Indians.
#2 Munaf Patel
When Munaf Patel burst onto the international scene he was deemed as the fastest bowler in the world and it was strange that he belonged to a land famous for producing great batsmen.
In the nine matches that he represented India on West Indian soil, Patel picked up a handsome 14 wickets which included a match-winning spell of 3/35. His wickets came at an average of 28.42 and his economy of 4.88 would have pleased any captain.
However, Munaf could not prolong his career after the 2011 trip to the Windies. He was more consistent with injuries rather than with the ball.
In the last season of the IPL, he was picked up by the Gujarat Lions but could not make any mark. The memory that he will cherish the most from his cricket career is lifting the ICC Cricket World Cup on the 2nd of April, 2011.
#1 Ajit Agarkar
Ajit Agarkar was one of the most potent Indian bowlers when it came to wicket taking ability. He was generally the go-to man for captains to break vital partnerships and also get the breakthrough in initial overs.
When playing in the West Indies, the Mumbai pacer brought his ace game to the front and leads this list by a handsome margin. Agarkar picked up 19 wickets in 11 matches at a stupendous average of 18.84. Not just this, his economy while picking up these wickets was a meagre 3.73.
The 39-year-old pacer did not always get due credit for his exploits with the ball. It will be surprising for many that he is the third highest wicket-taker in the history of ODIs for India with 288 scalps. Post retirement, Ajit has had commentary and coaching stints.