Saying that a bowler’s life in contemporary cricket is painful, would be an understatement. With a lot of elements including bat-size, quick outfields and shorter boundaries coming into play, conditions have become more batting friendly. Yet, there are bowlers who make the difference and stand out with their craft and guile. The upcoming ICC Champions Trophy 2017, scheduled to be played in England, can be expected to provide some assistance to the bowlers, especially seamers like it did in the previous edition. Bowling is an art, and the current crop has some wily and artistic bowlers, who are unique in their own way. Bowlers have improvised and come up with tactics to restrict the flow of runs to an extent. The knuckleball, shower bouncer, slower Yorker, the wrong’un are some beautifully developed deliveries, which have kept the batsmen thinking. With the coveted tournament being just days away, let’s take a look at five bowlers who can stand out in the high-voltage competition.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (India)
Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s rise as a limited-over bowler has been outstanding. He has grown as a death overs specialist and was exceptional in the recently concluded Indian Premier League, where he finished as the highest wicket-taker and claimed the purple cap. Bhuvneshwar has the rare ability to move the new ball both ways and keeping in mind the English conditions, which is conducive for seam bowling, the canny bowler can turn out to be a nightmare for the opponents. Bhuvneshwar carries reasonable experience on his shoulders and is a force to reckon with the white ball. His confidence is high with the kind of success he achieved in the Indian Premier League and will be eager to replicate his magical performance in the Champions Trophy as well.
Mitchell Starc (Australia)
The lanky Australian pacer is inarguably the best white ball bowler in contemporary cricket. Widely reckoned for his impeccable consistency in bowling toe-crushing yorkers, Starc will be the man to watch out in the tournament. He has a knack of delivering in big tournaments and his success in the 2015 World Cup, where he finished as the joint-highest wicket-taker, is a testament to it. Starc has given massive importance to this tournament as he also pulled out from the recently concluded Indian Premier League in order to focus on his bowling and fitness for the big league. His career has been often hampered with injuries in the recent times and has given himself enough time to set the stage on fire. A lot Australia’s success will also depend on the way Starc fares in this tournament.
Shadab Khan (Pakistan)
Well, many wouldn’t have heard about this wily leggie from Pakistan and may come as a surprise to many. Shadab Khan is kind of a mystery spinner, who did extremely well in the Pakistan Super League. With his stock delivery being the leg-spin, he dares to use the wrong’un more often. He bowls at a good pace and it was difficult for many batsmen at the crease to pick him off the hand. Shadab hasn’t been decoded yet and not known to many players, which could turn out to be an advantage for him. Though he lacks experience, one can expect him to do well with his leg-spin. He is a wicket-taking bowler and has the ingredient to become a star.
Mustafizur Rahman (Bangladesh)
The mystery pacer from Bangladesh has been mesmerising to watch. His mystery is yet to be decoded and has done a terrific job in shorter formats for Bangladesh at a tender age. Though his career has been hampered by injuries but has been enough time off to work on his fitness in the recent times. Though he didn’t play a lot of games for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL but played a key role in his team’s success in the previous edition. Mustafizur’s change in pace without and detectable change in action and ability to bowl yorkers along with some swing makes him special. Bangladesh have made a wild-card entry into the tournament after 11 long years at the expense of West Indies and are not considered as ‘minnows’ anymore. Mustafizur will have to pick a lot of wickets if Bangladesh are eyeing to put a fight, which they are well capable of.
Kagiso Rabada (South Africa)
In just 54 games for South Africa, Kagiso Rabada has shown what he is made off. He has developed quickly as South Africa’s frontline pacer and has done a commendable job in last two years. Rabada is meticulous when it comes to control and accuracy and has some serious pace in his artillery. He is also tipped to take the baton from Dale Steyn and evolve as the leader of the South African pace attack. His rapid evolution has earned him accolades from across the globe and can cause some serious damage with the ball in hand. He featured for Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League, where he didn’t do anything noteworthy but One-Day Internationals (ODIs) is a different ball game altogether. South Africa have one of the most formidable pace attacks going into the tournament and a lot of credit for possessing this kind of threat goes to none other than Kagiso Rabada.