India's Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Photo: Reuters/Ed Sykes

ADELAIDE – Having spent frustrating decades envying Pakistan’s endless supply of fast bowlers across the border, India’s excitement around their current pace attack is palpable but they would do well to temper their sunny optimism in Australia.

For a nation that traditionally built their bowling attack around crafty spinners who operated as if their life depended on it, India have finally acquired a versatile pace attack, which helped them claim 20 wickets in all but two Tests this year. India captain Virat Kohli pleasantly finds himself spoilt for pace choice, a luxury none of his predecessors in the job had, and is naturally upbeat about winning the four-Test series Down Under, something previous Indian teams have not managed in 11 previous attempts.

In Mohammed Shami, the tourists have got a quick who can move the ball both new and old. Among others, Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s prodigious swing, Umesh Yadav’s consistent pace and Ishant Sharma’s extra bounce make them real assets.

The cherry on top is Jasprit Bumrah, whose sling-arm action and awkward release point along with his ability to bowl yorkers almost at will adds an X-factor to the unit.

Ishant Sharma of India during the 2018 Sunfoil Test Series match against South Africa in January. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Ishant Sharma of India during the 2018 Sunfoil Test Series match against South Africa in January. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

When coach Ravi Shastri was asked in August if this was the best Indian attack ever, the former Test gushed, “By a mile, by a mile. No (other Indian) team comes even close.”

Considering they will be operating against an Australian team shorn of two of their best batsmen - the banned duo of Steve Smith and David Warner - India have reasons to be optimistic, but the challenges are substantial.

For starters, it is going to be a different ball game, quite literally.

Unlike the SG or Dukes balls they usually wreak havoc with, the old Kookaburra in Australia does not really swing or seam, which could substantially defang the Indian quicks, especially Kumar, who is unlikely to be fielded for the series opener in Adelaide from Thursday. 

The lack of sideways movement from the firm surfaces will also mitigate the threat Shami or Yadav would otherwise pose bowling elsewhere, while the heat will challenge them to maintain their pace throughout the day. 

Reuters