This Indian team is purring like a Ferrari
Umesh Yadav (left) and Mohammed Shami with trophy after winning the three-Test series against South Africa in Ranchi on Tuesday. - ANI
Dubai - India's bowling attack, pertinently the pacers, have added a new dimension to the style of cricket being played, both home and abroad
'Lions at home, lambs abroad.' 'Flat track bullies.' 'Be prepared to be sucked into a spin web.'
These and many such phrases and words have come to be associated with Indian Test teams of the past. The fact is though, it held true. Indian teams, back in those days, were a dominant force at home, almost to the point of being impregnable. So, much so that, Steve Waugh, then captain of that invincible Australian team in the early 2000s, termed India as the 'Final Frontier.'
But the flip side was India, like most subcontinental teams, were generally labelled as poor travellers. To give an oft used cliché, much water has indeed flown under the bridge, so to speak.
With due respect to teams back in the day, this Indian team, over the past couple of years, has bucked that trend.
India have not only become better travellers but they have also changed that notion of preparing dust-bowls when foreign teams come calling.
Bat first, bat big and then fox the opposition on a wearing fourth or fifth day pitch, used to be the mantra or the winning formula. And because of that, there was always an extra focus on that strip of 22-yards in the middle.
But that matters little for this new generation Indian team. The pitch can be brown, green, blue or what have you, but it doesn't concern Virat Kohli and his men.
And that change is to do with India's bowling attack, pertinently the pacers, who have added a new dimension to the style of cricket being played, both home and abroad.
There has been a paradigm shift to how India play their cricket now, especially Test cricket. Previously, pacers were left to play second fiddle as India relied on their traditional weapon - spin.
But the emergence of the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav have given India teeth. And they sure can bite.
The just concluded three-Test series against the visiting South Africans, is a case in point. Their mastery was evident as they combined with the batsmen to knock the stuffings out of South Africa. Bumrah, one of India's most potent weapons, wasn't even missed.
True, off-spinner R Ashwin topped the charts with 15 wickets, but the incisions made by Shami and Yadav over the three Tests, took India to an altogether different level. The pair finished with 13 and 11 wickets respectively. Veteran Ishant Sharma too provided able back-up along with Ravindra Jadeja.
And to do it against a side who had an equally good attack with the likes of Kagiso Rabada, makes it all the more remarkable.
India showed intensity and ruthlessness and that was not lost on opposition skipper Faf du Plessis.
"The Indian seam attack was tremendous. Right through the series, relentless and they showed us how to consistently bowl line and length," said du Plessis.
Meanwhile, India coach Ravi Shastri said that the pitch doesn't matter anymore. "Whether it's Johannesburg or Melbourne or Mumbai, we want to take the pitch out of the equation," Shastri told Star Sports.
"With the batting line-up we have, if they post big totals and then we have bowlers who can take 20 wickets - we can keep taking those World Championship points we are after," he added.
India sit pretty at the top of the World Test Championship with five wins out of five and with 240 points, 180 more than New Zealand.