I must admit, before the Test series between India and West Indies started, I really thought when India go to play England their chances to win the tour would solely depend on one person and one person only—no, not Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid or VVS Laxman.
My thoughts were if he failed to come back strong from his injury break and struggled for form or fitness, there was no way India were going to win the series, specially with the kind of form the England top order batsmen find themselves in.
But this current series has given me hope, and belief that even if Khan comes back a bit off colour we have the bowling attack to dismiss England twice in any condition.
In the Caribbean Ishant Sharma has found the sort of form and rhythm that shot him into the limelight on the tour of Australia. His pace is back up, his stock delivery of the in-cutter of good length seems to be back and he is a man who once again is confident in his own abilities.
I don't know what it is but Munaf Patel, too, seems to have got a bit of zing back into his bowling. Back from a niggle for the third Test match, I expected Patel to be his usual self and produce a decent spell of line and length, but he produced something different. A bit of extra pace, a bit of zip off the wicket and a change in attitude, perhaps.
Watching his spell to Marlon Samuels was gripping as he went about attacking the batsmen with his usual leg-cutters and some seriously well-directed bouncers with one even hitting Samuels on his helmet. His duel with Carlton Baugh was equally compelling to watch, and even though Baugh withstood everything Munaf threw at him, it was refreshing to see the effort he put in.
Praveen Kumar debuting on this tour has proved he can be a good bowler in Test matches, too, for India. Yes, he doesn't have the pace and bowls largely in the 72-77 mph bracket, but what he does have is immaculate control over swing. He can swing it in and swing it out without much change in his action, which makes it really hard for the batsmen to read him. In England I don't expect him to be an automatic choice in the playing XI, but he has done more than enough to prove that if he does get a game he will be more than a handful for the the best of batsmen.
We all know what Harbhajan Singh brings to the table, and now that he has crossed that 400 wicket landmark he might just be spurred on that much more to achieve far more greater things.
Yes, it is true he isn't the same bowler he was in the early 2000s, but he still is the best spinner in the country and right up there with the best spinners playing the game at the moment. Singh will no doubt test the English batsmen regardless of the conditions and the feisty "never say die" attitude he brings to the team will ensure he keeps the English batsmen honest.
With very able back-ups in the squad like Sreesanth and Amit Mishra, India finally has a bowling attack that not only looks good on paper but one that has bowlers in good form going into a packed season of cricket. I believe England are in for a rude shock and that the Indian bowling is what they should be more scared of than the much vaunted Indian batting.
The upcoming series is going to be a cracking one, and I reckon India will just win it and firmly establish themselves as the No. 1 team in the world.
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