Indian bowlers were the stars of the show in the mammoth win against England in one-off Test in Navi Mumbai. They restricted Heather Knight’s side to a total below 150 runs in both the innings to register the biggest win in Women's Test history in terms of margin of victory.
The progress of Indian bowlers - both pacers and spinners - has gone up by leaps and bounds. As for the pace, Renuka Singh Thakur and Pooja Vastrakar combined to take six wickets in the Test. Their line and length and accurate swing with the new ball troubled the likes of Tammy Beaumont, Nat Sciver-Brunt and Sophia Dunkley.
"She (Renuka Singh Thakur) is coming from a couple of injuries and she has worked extremely hard to not only develop fitness but also to develop her skills. You are starting to see rewards now of all that hard work. Not only does she swing the ball back in naturally. She has now got the ball that straightens and leaves the right-handers," Try Cooley, India's bowling coach said about Renuka's effort in the Test match.
24-year-old Vastrakar also had her fair share of injuries and has been working her way back with some impressive performances in the Asian Games Women's Cricket competition in China.
"Through rehab she (Pooja Vastrakar) dedicated herself to improve her run-up and get the most out of it. She has done a marvellous job there. Now she is more balanced at the crease. You can see the natural tendency now to get into the stumps and challenge those batters. She has got her run-up sorted which is great. She has got enough pace and variations to be a good red-ball bowler," Cooley added while taking about the pace bowling allrounder.
Not only the pacers, spinners were also able to have a significant impact. D Y Patil Stadium's pitch also aided the spinners a bit, but India couldn’t have done it without the skills their spinners add to the table. Deepti Sharma was the highest-wicket taker with nine scalps. Along with her, Sneh Rana and Rajeshwari Gayakwad were also a huge help as they India clinched a memorable win.
Cooley also lauded the efforts of bowlers both on and off the pitch. “I just think the confidence is growing because they’re putting the work in and they’re really paying attention to their own personal development. Since I came in, they’ve always wanted this. They’ve got this growth mentality that they want to get better,” Cooley said in a press conference on Wednesday (December 20) ahead of India’s one-off Test match against Australia.
“[England] are a good team and we beat them convincingly. But, you know, Australia are also a good team. So, the next challenge comes up and the girls want to improve themselves, and that’s the key driver for this."
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Harmanpreet Kaur used two pacers (Renuka and Vastrakar) and three spinners (Rana, Gayakwad and Deepti) against England. But she has a lot of bowling depth at her disposal. Meghna Singh and a young Titas Sadhu could potentially join in to provide extra pace if necessary. As for the spinners, Saika Ishaque provides a good option to go for as well. In case of an emergency, the skipper herself has a decent hand in spin bowling.
This makes the Indian bowling unit very balanced, giving the skipper the room to make some extra changes depending on the pitch conditions. Having a plethora of bowlers with different skill sets surely makes the job easier.
“The bowling unit definitely works very well together. I like the fact that the bowlers are very selfless in the way they put their game plan together, whether we play three seamers or two seamers or one seamer and four spinners. I think that’s a great credit to the diversity and the skills of the bowling unit,” Cooley concluded.
India’s collective efforts with the ball was one of the key factors behind their 347-run victory against England. Captain Harmanpreet will definitley feel blessed to have a diverse group of bowlers who could be relied on for different reasons and in-game situations.