Cricket

Arun: the grand wizard guiding India’s attack


Former paceman’s role in assembling a tough, skilful crew of bowlers has been massive

Bharat Arun is the miracle man of Indian cricket. Injuries wipe out an entire attack and he still conjures a force that can win the high-stakes Test series decider Down Under.

With a flowing white mane these days, India’s bowling coach has the looks of a wizard. Years and years of accumulating knowledge flows through Arun as he guides the side’s bowlers.

No Jasprit Bumrah or Mohammed Shami or Umesh Yadav or Ishant Sharma or Bhuvneshwar Kumar, or R. Ashwin or Ravindra Jadeja.

Yet, with the India-A attack, some would call it India-B, Arun got the men he had to bowl as a unit, follow the process, and stick to the plan as India carved out an epic Test series victory in Australia breaching Fortress Gabba.

Great pool of bowlers

“We have a great pool of bowlers now. Have wonderful bench strength,” Arun said on Friday. The former India paceman’s role in assembling a tough and capable bunch of reserve bowlers has been monumental.

He said, “Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur had done so well in First Class cricket. And T. Natarajan provided us the left-armer’s angle.”

And Arun offered a massive insight into India’s winning strategy against Australia. He revealed, “It was around July last year when coach Ravi Shastri called me and asked me to chalk out a plan where we would take the off-side out of the equation.”

Sticking to the task

Arun elaborated, “The Australians are strong on the off-side with cuts and drives, and we decided to bowl straighter lines, on middle and leg, with a leg-side field. The bowlers stuck to their task and the plan worked.”

This Indian team did not fear defeat. Dwelling on the side’s fearlessness, Arun said, “On the last day of the Brisbane Test, you had two young batsmen, Rishabh Pant and Washington Sundar, going all out for a win, when they could have, so easily, played out a draw. Of course, earlier, Cheteshwar Pujara played like a warrior, taking so many blows on the body.”

And the strategy to play five bowlers at the Gabba was a brave ploy. “We have seen that it can be very hard to win a Test overseas with four bowlers. Playing an extra batsman would have been a defensive move and the captain, the coach and the support staff were on the same page — play five bowlers.”

Arun observed, “We had seen Washington bat at the nets and knew he could really play and he was a left-hander too. Although there as a net bowler, Washington batted half-an-hour at the nets in every session.”

Simple mantra

India’s winning mantra was simple, he noted. “Follow the process. Execute the plans on the field with discipline.”

Arun was optimistic looking ahead. “We have a top-class pace attack, have depth. And, in Ashwin and Jadeja, have the two best spinners in the world. Jadeja blossoming as an all-rounder is great for Indian cricket.”

England would be a tough team to beat, he said. It will be another day and another challenge for Arun.

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