In a batsman-dominated world, bowlers have always had a hard time and the ones who proliferated through sustained excellence went on to become legends of the game. With Test cricket and ODI going adjacent to each other and the rigour of the cricketing routine, it became extremely challenging for the bowlers to put in the best they had at their disposal. However, a select few decided to challenge the odds and came out in flying colours redefining the perception of the batsmen that they will walk free with anything that they have up the sleeves.
Indian bowling was in arrant despair as the bowlers regularly found it difficult to find a steady footing under themselves. Our pacers barely reached the 140 kays mark and our spinners weren’t of that high gentry either who could create an entire landslide by themselves.
It was with the arrival of Srinath that heralded a golden era of India bowlers all set to challenge the norm of mediocre bowling from the Indians. Though Kapil Dev did set the tone correctly in his times, others failed to pursue similar heights and India had to blatantly rely on their batsmen to guide them through and the upshot was nothing short of a humiliating upheaval in the big encounters.
We will look at five Indian bowlers who managed to register 200 wickets in both Test and One day cricket and eventually went on pen their names in golden letters in the scruffy pages of Indian cricketing history.
- Anil Kumble – 956 international wickets
Bowling with a broken jaw, Anil Kumble single-handedly saved the blushes of another Indian defeat at the hands of a formidable West Indies in the latter’s backyard. This man also became the first Indian, in fact, the only Indian and the second man in the world to notch up all the ten scalps in an innings as his ten-wicket haul against Pakistan helped India seal a crucial encounter.
Kumble has always been a significant name in the Indian echelons of bowling right since his inception in Indian cricket. Registering 619 Test wickets from 132 Tests and 337 ODI wickets from 271 ODI’s, he eventually made it to the Indian cricketer’s hall of fame with some remarkable spin bowling.
Much to everyone’s happiness, he also played crucial knocks with the bat that helped India secure important victories from the jaws of glaring defeats.
- Javagal Srinath – 551 international wickets
The man who changed the complexion of Indian fast bowling with his brutal pace was also the harbinger of India’s crop of the finest fast bowlers that included the likes of Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and Ajit Agarkar.
Hailing all the way from Karnataka, Srinath used to regularly clock at 145 kmph that temporarily spiked up to 157 kays at times as relayed by legendary Zimbabwean batsman, Alistair Campbell. Unfortunately, his pace fell by a significant margin after he ended up hurting his rotor blade and was compelled to undergo a surgery that changed his bowling style to being more line and length specific rather than being a brute fast bowler.
He managed to notch up 551 international wickets which were spread across two formats of the game that featured 236 Test wickets and 315 ODI wickets. Srinath was also a significant batsman towards the end as he teamed up with Kumble in one of the most thrilling encounters between India and Australia that saw these two walking away with the bragging rights with an incredible 9th wicket partnership of 52 runs.
- Zaheer Khan – 593 international wickets
Khan was the torch-bearer of Indian fast bowling excellence over a span of almost a decade, successfully carrying on the baton of fast bowling coupled with emphatic movement from Srinath and passing it on to the era of the next generation of fast bowlers.
Registering 311 Test wickets from 92 matches and 282 wickets from 200 ODI’s, he was one of the most fearsome Indian fast bowlers. He played a pivotal role in India’s second World Cup triumph in 2011 as his crucial breakthroughs at important junctures of the games helped India to stay on top of their opponents.
- Harbhajan Singh – 686 international wickets
Anil Kumble’s most reliable bowling partner in Test cricket, Harbhajan Singh was the personification of belligerence in the Indian spinners. Undaunted by his counterparts, he went on to become the first Indian bowler to notch up a test hattrick in the famous Eden test of 2001, as he scalped Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne in the first innings that set the tone of the game before Steve Waugh and Jason Gillespie staged a dramatic turnaround to peg India back.
However, after Laxman and Dravid played a partnership of their lifetime, it was Harbhajan Singh who ripped through the Australian batting line up with 6 crucial wickets that helped India to win this thrilling bout as it always stood an icon of India’s resurgence in Test cricket.
Harbhajan overcame Kumble in ODI’s with his airtight bowling as he hardly spilt more than 4.5 an over which was pretty decent and he managed to notch up 269 wickets from 236 international appearances. His Test figures, however, failed to shadow Kumble and he ended up with 417 wickets from 103 Test matches which is also a rare feat achieved by rare cricketers in the prolonged antiquity of Indian bowling.
- Kapil Dev – 687 international wickets
The flickering smile that captivated countless hearts had a brutal fast bowler lurking beneath the skin. The man who helped India to chart history by defeating a formidable West Indies in the 1983 World Cup final was the face of India’s cricketing revolution that witnessed them being catapulted from the wraps of mediocrity to notching up the World Championship.
Dev was more of a medium pacer who improved his speed considerably over time and threatened the best of batsmen with some vicious swing of the ball.
Going by his batting standards, no one would have actually believed that this man was a bowling all-rounder. He went on to notch up 434 Test wickets and 253 ODI wickets that propelled him to the status of a living Indian legend and history will never forget this man for his feats on the pitch.