The length bowled by the Australian bowlers have been too short through the series. This is evident from the analysis of the number of bowled and leg-before dismissals they have extracted, as well as the proportion of deliveries targeted towards the stumps.
Mitchell Starc, the Australian spearhead, has bowled at 147.54 kmph in this series. Yes, that is his average speed. Never has this sterling pace bowler bowled faster through a complete series. Whatever else, his intent and relentless speed cannot be flawed.
Yet, he has just 13 wickets to show for his efforts, at 34.53 apiece, taking wickets every 64 balls. Perhaps in isolation the figure does not make for poor reading.
But, this has not been a high-scoring series, and runs have come at 29.11 per wicket. Hence, Starc’s figures are below average by definition.
Jasprit Bumrah’s 20 wickets in the series have come at 15.25 apiece, one every 41 balls. He has been exceptional.
Ishant Sharma has picked up 11 at 23.81, and even his strike rate is 56.1.
Mohammad Shami’s 14 have come at 26.14 apiece, and he has got a wicket every 51 balls.
The pick of the Australian quick bowlers has been Pat Cummins, and although the wicketless first innings at Sydney distorted the figures a bit, 14 wickets at 27.78 and a strike rate of 62 is not bad.
Josh Hazlewood, however, has seen his bowling average creep into the 30s for his 13 wickets, taking 70 balls over each.
Pace alone is not enough to scare the Indian batsmen into submission, at least not anymore.
Besides, there is a distinct difference between the two sides.
62 Indian batsmen have been dismissed in the series. The number is more than the 60 Australian batsmen because Indians have played one extra innings.
Of the 62 dismissals, there has been one solitary leg before wicket dismissal.
17 of these dismissals have been inflicted by Nathan Lyon’s tireless off-spin.
Of the 45 wickets captured by Australian pace, the stumps have been rattled 7 times. The Australian pace bowlers have not obtained one single leg-before dismissal. The only lbw dismissal that has gone in their favour was a victim of Lyon. That is some amazing statistic.
The Indian pace bowlers have taken 47 wickets. 10 of them have been bowled and 8 leg-before.
|Pace bowlers in the series||Wickets||Bowled||Leg Before|
Hence, as explained Mitchell Starc has not lacked in the department of pace. In fact, he has bowled faster than ever. However, the length bowled by the entire Australian pace bowling unit has left a lot to be desired.
Indeed, an analysis by Cricviz reveals that only 8.5% of the deliveries bowled by the Australian quicks in this series have been targeted towards the stumps. That is a remarkably low number, the lowest by the Australians in a home series since 2007.
Agreed, the ball has not swung as much as the Australian bowlers would have wanted it to. But the short of length attack has allowed Indians to play a patient waiting game, without having to bother about putting bat to every delivery. Another analysis by Cricviz states that Cheteshwar Pujara has left nearly 280-odd deliveries in this series. That is almost as many as Tim Paine, Aaron Finch, Marcus Harris, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh have combined to leave.
In underlines, the sheer application showed by the Indian maestro. But his work has been made a lot easier by the Australians who have bowled balls that can be left alone. The Indian bowlers have not allowed the Australian batsmen that amount of indulgence.
Earlier, when Indian sides visited the shores, a bit of bounce and a bit of chin-music were enough to unsettle all but the very best of their batsmen. However, if that had been the pre-series strategy, it was slightly misdirected in every sense, because the modern-day batsmen of India are quite well-equipped to handle the short balls. Besides, it is really surprising that the Australian pace bowlers, as well as the think-tank, have not revisited their methods and decided on a fuller length of attack.
There have been considerable differences between the sides, and the amount of time the Indian batsmen like Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli are ready to spend in the middle is one of the major ones. But, surprisingly, even in the fast bowling department there are problems aplenty in the Australian ranks.
The Indian batsmen have been way better. And they have been more adept at handling balls pitched up as well. However, their job has been made easier by the length dished out by the Australian bowlers who have effectively diminished the possibilities of two methods of dismissal quite drastically.
No wonder India are 2-1 up in the series and sitting pretty on a 600-plus total in the final Test.