Australian legend Glenn McGrath has predicted a 4-0 whitewash for India in the four-match Test series. And, unless India do something drastic, there is very little chance of McGrath's prediction not coming true. Ever since the 2011 series in England, India have just not looked like a side that can win away from home. They did register a victory at Lord's during their latest visit to the country. In hindsight though that was more like a flash in the pan. In between, they were embarrassed in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and even at home by England. They just haven't found the right combination to win Test matches.
Poor bowling is one of the major factors why India have been consistently coming second against major opponents. The quality of the bowling isn't great, one of the reasons for the same is their lack of experience. Ishant Sharma bowled India to a memorable win at Lord's, but that apart he has done precious little to inspire the confidence of the team. Among the others, Mohammad Shami had a torrid time in England in the Tests, and it was only in the one-dayers that he made an impact. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the only bowler who was consistent in England, and exploited the conditions well. However, he is a bowler with his limitations, and was same was evident as the series progressed.
As per the team selected for the Australia series, Ishant is the most experienced, and thus he will be expected to lead the attack. But, whether he can deliver the goods is the big question. Often in the past, he has promised much, but the results haven't been as satisfactory. Thus, India will be hoping that he can produce more of Lord's like efforts in Australia. The series will also be crucial for Umesh Yadav. The Vidarbha pacer has impressed in recent times, and he has been chosen with a lot of hope. Varun Aaron is part of the team as well. And, his pace could come in handy for India provided he gets his directions right.
Fitness is another major concern for India when it comes to their fast bowlers. Everyone from Ishant to Varun and Shami are heading to Australia with injury concerns. In fact, Ishant was ruled out of the Test immediately after his Lord's heroics, and India lost the momentum in his absence. Going back to 2011, Zaheer Khan was ruled out within a session of the first Test during the disastrous tour of England. Again, it proved to be a big setback for the Indians as the visitors lost their lead bowler, and were searching for wickets during the rest of the series, which never came.
The importance of a potent fast bowling outfit can be gauged from how it fared the last time India won a Test series in a top playing country. For that, we will have to go back to 2007, when India toured England. Zaheer was the leader of the attack, and was in prime form back then. He had returned to the team following a wonderful county stint, and used his experience to the hilt to trouble the English batsmen in their own backyard. It was a wonderful exhibition of skilled bowling, as a result of which India won the series. Somebody will need to produce another special effort if India want to shock the Aussies.
--By A Cricket Analyst