Bowling, per se, has never been India's major strength in the five-day game. Yet, over the years, they have managed to produce attacks that have been good enough to win them Tests, both at home, and away. The present bowling attack is definitely not one of them. An attack, which has conceded 500 plus runs in each of the Tests, and that too at an economy rare not acceptable in one-dayers, on the contrary qualifies for being one of India's worst ever bowling attacks, perhaps the worst. No wonder not much has changed at Sydney even though the Test captaincy has moved from MS Dhoni to Virat Kohli.
Lack of penetration and consistency are two of the main concerns with the present bowling attack. Inexperience is definitely a factor, but teams have done better with equally raw bowling attacks. India genuinely lack a leader in the fast bowling department. Even though Ishant Sharma has become one by default following Zaheer Khan's axe, he hasn't proved himself worthy of the same. The others have just not looked the part be it Mohammed Shami or Varun Aaron or Umesh Yadav. The fact that Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been injured hasn't helped the team's cause.
The Indian attack as a whole just hasn't been able to build any kind of pressure on the Aussie batting. In almost every game, the openers have raced away at a rapid pace. Ishant has been somewhat successful in keeping the runs down, but hasn't picked up many wickets. As for the others, they have been poor in both departments, even though Shami did well to finish with five wickets at Sydney. On the few occasions that the Indian attack has managed to pick up quick Aussie wickets, they have handed back the advantage by allowing the tail to flourish.
Like the pace bowling department, India have been poor in the spin department as well. The fact that their number one spinner has not played in all Tests both in England and here in Australia indicates how disappointing his performance has been. While he has an excellent record at home, he has clearly been found wanting in away conditions. In fact, his batting has been more impressive than his bowling. For a brief while, Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha flourished in home Tests raising hopes, but Ojha was never taken on away tours, and now has been banned from bowling. Ashwin, on the other hand, is not doing a lot to improve his reputation.
Back in the 70s, Sunil Gavaskar opened the bowling because India had lack of pace bowling options, but the great spin quartet made up for the same. In the 80s, Kapil Dev, Roger Binny and Madan Lal formed a formidable attack briefly. Although India did not win much away from home in the 90s, Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad put up some memorable performances. The 2000 era, under Sourav Ganguly and then Rahul Dravid, was the best of Indian cricket in recent decades with Zaheer Khan, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh proving themselves as match-winners. In comparison, the current Indian attack is pedestrian, even that seems an understatement.
--By A Cricket Analyst