Exclusive: Very high on my list, Dilip Vengsarkar gives his verdict on India's pace attack
The former India captain has been highly impressed with Mohammed Siraj
Having faced great fast bowling attacks in his career, Dilip Vengsarkar is now overjoyed seeing his own country torment rival teams with their newfound battery of world-class pace bowlers.
There were no demons on the fifth-day track at the Lord’s on Monday to harass Joe Root’s men. And yet, the home team batsmen fell like nine pins against the relentless aggression of India’s four-pronged pace attack, handing Virat Kohli’s men a resounding 151-run victory in the second Test of the five-match series.
For a man who scored six Test hundreds against the legendary West Indies fast bowlers in the 1970s and 1980s, Vengsarkar doffed his hat to the Indian team management for their brave decision of playing with four fast bowlers.
“I can’t remember when I saw four fast bowlers bowling for India. We used to play three pace bowlers and a spinner. That used to be the bowling line up,” Vengsarkar told Khaleej Times over the phone from Mumbai.
“But we had five bowlers. To play with five bowlers requires a positive attitude from the think tank and confidence in the ability of the bowlers. I think they were brilliant, they bowled extremely well and they always kept the pressure on the England batsmen.”
So is the Indian attack featuring Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Siraj among the best he has ever seen in world cricket?
“It would be very high on my list, to be honest,” the former Indian captain replied.
While Bumrah, Shami and Sharma have been seasoned performers at the highest level, Siraj’s meteoric rise in international cricket has stunned the pundits.
Bereft of proper shoes, the 27-year-old pace bowler was playing corporate cricket on nondescript Hyderabad grounds until only six years ago.
But on Monday, his fiery four-wicket spell earned India their only third Test victory at Lord’s – the spiritual home of cricket.
“Absolutely, Siraj not having shoes until a few years ago, we have seen few such players emerging in India after the IPL,” Vengsarkar said.
“If you see Siraj’s performance in Australia, he excelled on the tour after India lost the first Test and were bowled out for 36. Even Kohli had returned home.
“Then Siraj was the guy who made the difference with his positive attitude and aggression. He pulled the entire team up with his fiery spells. And they won against Australia in Australia. He played a huge part in that and since then he hasn’t looked back.”
The former Indian chief selector was also impressed with the team’s relentless aggression on the field after the late order heroics from Bumrah and Shami frustrated England bowlers on Monday.
“It was very refreshing to see that. If there was one team that could lose in 60 overs, it was England. So they had to go for the win. That’s what the Indians did. It was the right approach,” he said.
“And luckily for them, all the fast bowlers bowled really well. They didn’t allow England a single partnership. One big England partnership could have spoiled the party. So it was a great opportunity for the Indians to win and they grabbed that opportunity.”
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