In the pre-test match press conference, Cheteshwar Pujara was all praise for Indian bowlers and identified IPL as a reason for the recent emergence of so many good Indian fast bowlers helping Indian test team to fight outside Asia.
IPL was started as a great ensemble of global superstars where people like Chris Gayle, Lasith Malinga, and AB De Villiers got a huge fan following and became household names. However, another interesting aspect of IPL was to provide a worldwide platform for Indian domestic players to showcase their skills in front of the global audience and make their mark which may not be possible in Ranji trophy or any other domestic tournaments.
The fast bowlers have their work cut out in IPL due to the smaller grounds and belter of the pitches hence players have to depend more on their skills, variations and good planning against each of the opponent batsmen. Hence, bowlers who can be successful against all those odds catch the fancy of the fans and selectors easily and get a reckoning. However, in the earlier seasons of IPL bowlers like Manpreet Gony and Parvinder Awana were fast-tracked to Indian teams based on their good showing in IPL but failed to replicate their success in the international stages.
In recent times, the situation has changed and as the game is evolving, the players and coaches also know how to utilize their full potential. One of the biggest examples of an Indian fast bowler making his mark in international cricket is Jasprit Bumrah. Currently, the number one ranked ODI bowler was in the fringes of the Gujarat team as a 19-year old around 2013. However, his good performance in age-group cricket convinced Mumbai Indians to sign him and he made his IPL debut in 2013 against Royal Challengers Bangalore. It was a dream debut as he became just the second player to take 3 wickets in the very first match and finished with 3 for 32. He was again signed by MI in the following season. For the next two years, it was a learning phase for Bumrah. He was immensely helped by Lasith Malinga, one of the top T20 bowlers in the world at that point of time who also has an unusual action like Bumrah. He shared his knowledge with Bumrah and Bumrah ensured to pick all those insights like a dedicated student and made himself a top class death bowler with a lethal Yorker. Bumrah showed his class in the 2016 season and finished with 15 wickets with an economy below 8. 2017 was even better when his 20 wickets at an average of 22.20 and economy of 7.35 was one of the key reasons for MI’s third IPL triumph. In the last 3 seasons, Bumrah has taken 52 wickets in IPL and his economy is improving every year. Along with that, he proved himself to be a top limited overs bowler in the international cricket and now he has become a regular member in the test team. Next year India’s hope to lift the ICC World cup for the 3rd time will be hugely dependent on Jasprit Bumrah.
Not only Bumrah, bowlers like Siddarth Kaul, Deepak Chahar and Mohammed Siraj also got their chance in recent time post good showing in IPL.
IPL also helped bowlers like Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav to make a strong comeback into the Indian test team post intermediate form slump. For example, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, after making a good start in 2013 and after having a very good tour in England in 2014, was falling off the rather around 2015 due to poor form and fitness. However, he used IPL 2016 as an opportunity to make a strong return. His pace improved and he won consecutive purple caps with 23 and 26 wickets respectively in 2016 and 2017. The first one also helped him to take Sunrisers Hyderabad to their maiden IPL title.
A similar story was with Umesh who also came back and made his presence felt with his good showing for Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the recent seasons and now again back to Indian national team as a regular.
So it can be said that Pujara’s statement is somewhat true, however, bowlers like Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami are not that successful in IPL although they have made their mark in domestic cricket and important parts of Indian test composition and more often lead the bowling pack.
With more and more fast bowlers coming through IPL, Under-19 cricket and Ranji, looks like Indian team has a good stock to pick fast bowlers and can get an easy replacement for any injury or drop in performance for anyone in the current lot.