The absence of a left arm pacer in the armory has gone on to hurt India in a big way. Not just India misses a deadly left arm angle, bringing the ball back to the right handers combination but it also doesn’t help their batsmen against the left armers as they don’t get enough practice in the nets to counter this angle. India have had few successful left arm seamers in the past but that gets irrelevant when they struggle to find a single efficient one of the same efficiency & calibre today.
Off late India have tried Barinder Sran, Srinath Aravind and Khaleel Ahmed without much success. You can’t play a left arm pacer just for the sake of it and that’s a fact India have realized after trying all these options. Khaleel went around 9 runs per over in his T20 career and took a wicket after conceding 31 runs on average in ODIs. Sran last played an international game in 2016 had an even more mediocre record. Aravind could only play one T20 where he returned with the figures of 1-44 in 4 overs. Without being harsh on them, these bowlers hardly swing the ball back in and hence forget about their impact at international level, they can’t even fully prepare the right handed Indian batsmen in nets to face someone like Starc or Trent Boult or Mohammad Amir.
Saurashtra won their maiden Ranji Trophy after toiling really hard for the first four days before Bengal made things easier on them on Day 5 on a placid pitch. Their captain Jaydev Unadkat made headlines for an epic run out of Akash Deep but people also noticed his 67 wickets in this season. It is the highest number for any pacer in a Ranji season and if he had got one more wicket, he’d have equaled Bihar’s spinner Ashutosh Aman record of 68 wickets which is the overall highest number of wickets taken in an entire Ranji season.
His successful season has sparked off a new debate among Indian Cricket aficionados. Should India pick Unadkat again in the team or at least keep him in the scheme of things? Well, no one can have a problem with selectors tracking his performances but what about his selection? Does India really need him?
Unadkat was first picked in the Indian team in 2010 and he played 18 International matches in the next 3 years. Swing was never his best friend but he had pace as his companion in those years. He lost that too over the years and now has to depend upon change of pace and variation in angles to get wickets. Look upon his wickets against Gujarat in this Ranji semifinal. Although a small sample size but most of his wickets came with balls going across or catching the return catches due to the ball holding up. Not underestimating the success he got but is his success enough to find him a place in Indian setup? There is more to it than just the plain numbers otherwise you’d have no selectors to pick players in the national side. Just go through the stats of players over a season and pick the top scorers and top wicket takers! It doesn’t work that way.
India have Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav in their mix when it comes to Test cricket and they all have been doing exceptionally well, more so at home. Bumrah, Shami, Bhuvneshwar and Navdeep Saini play ODI cricket too and apart from some struggles here and there, they have been pretty good. Whether India needs him in T20s nor not depends upon his IPL performance which has been pretty dismal in the last two years.
All the world class teams at the moment has a left hander in their bowling attack. Australia has Starc, New Zealand has Boult, Pakistan has Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz but England had none and they still went on to win the World Cup last year. India have none but they are the number one Test side which proves that having a left armer is a luxury but not a necessity.