Even though the Indian cricket team has been a successful, world-dominating side in recent years – despite their lack of ICC trophies to show – the left-arm fast bowlers have been India’s nemesis for a few years now.
Time and again, the Indian batters have succumbed to the swing and seam movement, and the angle of left-arm fast bowlers. That India themselves have not had a quality and experienced left-arm fast bowler since Zaheer Khan has meant that the Indian batters have not had the opportunity to face high-quality pace from bowling from a left-armer in the nets.
Virat Kohli vs LAP in ODIs since 2021: Runs: 87, Balls: 98, Dismissals: 4, Avg: 21, SR: 88
Rohit Sharma vs LA Fast in ODIs since 2021: Runs: 138, Balls: 147, Dismissals: 6, Avg: 23, SR: 93
Four of those dismissals have come within the first five overs. (Stat courtesy- Cricbuzz)
Here are the top 5 left-arm fast bowlers against whom Indian batters have struggled:
Shaheen Afridi is arguably the best new-ball bowler currently in the world. The left-arm Pakistani pace sensation has given some sleepless nights to the Indian batters. He took 3 wickets – that of Rohit, Kohli, and KL Rahul – in their T20 World Cup 2021 match. Most recently, Shaheen bowled both Rohit and Kohli in their Asia Cup 2023 encounter. Shaheen is one of the few pacers who can generate both swing and seam movement at high pace.
Indian fans are still scarred by Trent Boult’s heroics against India in the 2019 World Cup semi-final in Manchester. Defending 240 runs, Boult nipped out India captain Virat Kohli in just the 3rd over of India’s innings and dented India massively.
He also later dismissed half-centurion Ravindra Jadeja. Boult also has 41 wickets in 10 Tests against India. Boult is perhaps the best new-ball swing bowler in the world.
Earlier this year in March 2023, Mitchell Starc wreaked havoc over the Indian batters in the ODI series in India. Despite the Indian conditions not offering much for fast bowlers, Starc tormented the Indian batters – he dismissed Suryakumar Yadav for two golden ducks – with his swing, seam, and high pace.
He took 3 wickets in Wankhede and 5 wickets in Vizag, helping Australia win the series. He also had 6-wicket haul against India in 2015 at the MCG. In Tests, Starc has 48 wickets against the Asian giants.
Former Pakistani fast bowler Mohammad Amir had a serious tight hold over the Indian top-order during his peak years in 2016 and 2017.
In 2016, he produced two sensational spells of 3/18 and 1/11 having the Indian batter jumping and hopping, but Pakistan lost both those games. However, in the 2017 Champions Trophy final, Amir delivered the knockout punches with the wickets of Rohit Sharma, Dhawan, and Kohli. And that performance is being remembered till today.
England left-arm seamer Reece Topley has emerged as one of the best new-ball bowlers in limited-overs cricket in recent times. One of his best performances came against India in 2022 when he finished with marvelous figures of 6/22 at Lord’s, which included dismissals of Rohit and Dhawan.