Over 60 wickets in the World Cup and a perfect 60 in Sri Lanka, the Indian team’s bowling department seems to be functioning like a well-oiled machine. The day after the team returned to India after a successful series in Sri Lanka, Mirror caught up with bowling coach Bharat Arun (in pic), who has been with the team for over a year.
What is working for India’s bowlers of late?
Bowling in partnerships. It may sound cliche but there was a lot of hard work as well. The bowlers worked hard and implemented the plans to perfection. Each bow-ler has understood his role and is aware of what is expected of him.
Did Virat Kohli’s five-bowler theory change the fortunes of the team?
That is very positive thinking by the captain and the bowlers have understood it. Virat was clear from the very beginning that the target was 20 wickets in a Test. That is the reason, we needed to have five bowlers. The policy has worked.
But the captain seems appears to be putting pressure on the bowlers…
We need 20 wickets at any cost. It’s an extremely positive approach. The kind of positivity that Virat and Ravi (Shastri, the coach) brought into the side, was commendable. They never put pressure on the bowlers. Instead, they gave the bowlers the freedom to express themselves.
Is there something that they are doing now that they weren’t in the past?
It is not fair a question for me to answer. I don’t know what they did or did not do in the past. But all I can say is we have data on every player and we studied that very well. I am sure others too would be doing the same. We had plans for every batsmen and the bowlers implemented those plans very well. In the nets, we tried to implement the plans. So in a way, the match was an extension of the practice sessions.
Is this the best we have seen of Indian bowling?
I don’t think so. No matter what we do, there is always room for improvement. Every bowler has shown improvement and will keep improving.
What did you focus on – pace or accuracy?
The aim was to be accurate without compromising on speed. The lines differed for every batsman and understanding the requirement was very important. The bowlers had that understanding.
Is there not a need to improve their speeds?
Why not? We are working towards it. Umesh (Yadav) has consistently clocked over 140 and moved the ball at that pace. He was a lot more consistent in Lanka than he was ever. Ishant (Sharma) was magnificent in the first Test, but didn’t get too many wickets. In the next two Tests, he started bowling fuller. So life is a process of improvement.
Explain the bowling partnership that you spoke of…
If one bowler is going through a very good spell, the other bowler must maintain that pressure by stemming the flow of runs. If you are attacking from one end and leaking from the other end, then you are not effective.
Have you focused much on spinners?
In the first two Tests, spin had to be the main weapon and in the third Test, the roles were reversed. In the third Test, the spinners kept the runs down and took the odd wicket. This proves that we have the ability to do well on any track. Ashwin has developed tremendously in the recent years. Mishra (Amit) is our most experienced bowler. He has got over 500 wickets in the Ranji Trophy. Obviously, he knows the art of taking wickets. He is somebody who is extremely accurate for a leg-spinner. He also has a wide variety in his armoury. He is accurate with a wide variety. Over 150 runs and 15 wickets, he was an unsung hero, he was a silent performer for the team in Lanka.
So where do we go from here?
I am hoping that this will inspire a generation of bowlers. Ishant and Umesh can be inspirations to many youngsters. That augers well for Indian cricket.
How do you explain the new-found aggression?
I guess the fast bowlers have to be aggressive. A lot has been written about aggression and show of aggression and I don’t want to talk about it.