Nottingham: Ravi Shastri said India now had its most potent pace attack of all time following a crushing 203-run victory over England in the third Test at Trent Bridge.
India’s pacemen took 19 out of 20 England wickets in Nottingham before Ravichandran Ashwin, an off-spinner, ended the match just 10 minutes into Wednesday’s fifth and final day by dismissing No 11 James Anderson.
Because the dry and dusty pitches often found in India traditionally favour spinners, their Test attacks were once dominated by slow bowlers.
But it was a very different story as the pacemen held sway at Trent Bridge, with all-rounder Hardik Pandya taking five for 28 in England’s first innings 161 and fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah five for 85 in the hosts’ second innings 317.
Moreover, India also have the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav waiting in the wings.
Team coach Shastri, asked if India now had their best pace attack of all time, told reporters: “By a mile, by a mile. No (other India) team comes even close.”
– Bumrah surprise –
Bumrah bowled a marathon 26 overs during Tuesday’s play, a feat made all the more remarkable by the fact this was his first competitive match since suffering a thumb injury in a Twenty20 international against Ireland in Dublin on June 27.
“He is different, he is like when (Lasith) Malinga came on the scene or a Mitchell Johnson,” said Shastri of the 24-year-old Bumrah, who only played the first of his four career Test against South Africa in Cape Town in January.
“He has that element of surprise… With that long spell he surprised us as well — almost 30 overs in that one innings, for someone who has not played for a month and a half is commendable.”
India may be the world’s top-ranked Test side but in the past five years they have won just one of their six previous series outside of Asia, against a struggling West Indies.
But Shastri who has been involved in India’s backroom set-up since 2014, initially as team director, was adamant they could be a force abroad.
“In the four years I’ve been doing this job, I think if you look at a clinical performance overseas, I think this has to be the best.
“When you look at all three departments, they stood up. As a batting unit, as a catching unit and as a bowling unit, so you can’t ask for more.
“The endeavour of this team is to be the best travelling team in the world,” former spin-bowling all-rounder Shastri, a member of the India side that won 2-1 in England in 1986, added.
“And I believe they’re almost there. In India, we know what we can do. Especially if we play in conditions that suit us, very few teams will have a sniff.
“But to go to South Africa, England, Australia and try and win there, that’s the endeavour of this team and they have it in them,” the 56-year-old insisted.
– ‘Champion Kohli’ –
India’s comprehensive win in Nottingham — just their seventh Test-match victory in England — followed a huge innings and 159-run defeat by England at Lord’s after a narrow loss in the series opener at Edgbaston.
“All I asked the boys was to give me some accountability and they were simply magnificent,” said Shastri, who attributed the vastly improved performance to “mental rest”.
Trent Bridge also proved a triumph for Virat Kohli, the India captain’s innings of 97 and 103 seeing the star batsman named man-of-the-match.
“What can you say about him?,” said Shastri. “All you can say is ‘well played’, there is nothing else to say.
“He is a champion player.”
India are bidding to become just the second team in Test history to win a five-match series from 2-0, with a Don Bradman-inspired Australia the only side to have achieved that feat when they defeated England back in 1936/37.
But Shastri brushed aside the comparison ahead of the fourth Test in Southampton, which starts on August 30.
“One match at a time, we live in the present,” he said. “We move to Southampton and start afresh, take a fresh guard.”