India’s Backup Test Bowlers: Best Indian Bowling Bench?

Less than a decade ago, India had a great shortage of bowlers. Many players who made a mark in the limited-over games failed to replicate that in the Tests. Many big names from domestic cricket were brought into the team. While some failed, the others couldn’t do much due to lack of opportunities.

This lack of good bowlers impacted India a lot. Since the beginning of the 21st century, India had only 2 bowlers who played over 100 games. Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh crossed this coveted number, while Ishant Sharma is on the verge of doing so. Surprisingly, players like Zaheer Khan and Javagal Srinath failed to do so. Given our key bowlers playing little, India had a forgettable bench strength.

While many experts have termed the current bowling attack comprising the likes of Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammad Shami as the best Indian bowling attack of all time, India has produced a staggering backup of impressive bowlers for Tests. All of them made a mark only in the series against Australia in 2020-21, and now are part of an incredibly strong bowling bench. Let’s have a look at the debutants of this series who are now the part of India’s backup attack.

1. Mohammad Siraj

After observing Siraj play for a year, his coach remarked: “He will play over a 100 Tests for India.” And Siraj has got just the perfect start for this. It is no joke dominating the Aussies in Australia and Siraj did this. It is no joke leading the bowling attack in just the 3rd game, and Siraj did this. And it is no joke playing in an overseas series after the loss of a loved one, and Siraj did this.

This shows the resilience that this man has. In fact, he has been so good that many are considering Siraj ahead of Mohammed Shami in their team.

2. Navdeep Saini

The Test series against Australia definitely didn’t go Saini’s way. While more was expected of him, many loose balls damaged his repute. But Saini is much more than that. Coming on the back of some strong domestic records, Saini has had an impressive first-class career for Delhi.

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Apart from the good pace he generates, Saini has got great discipline and fitness that could add to his longevity in international career.

3. Shardul Thakur

Shardul made his debut back in 2018, but an injury in his very second over of the game made him wait for 2 more years to make it to the Test team. And these two years were life-changing for him. He worked on his fitness, increased his pace and also improved his batting. As luck would help him, he replaced an injured player in the squad.

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While his batting was more memorable that day, his bowling was a little off the mark. Just like Saini, he bowled many loose balls that went for runs. But you can never write Shardul off. Another game opportunity, and he will be excited to make a mark.

4. T Natarajan

India rarely had the luxury of having a left-arm pacer play three formats of the game. Barring Zaheer Khan, none others have been impactful. And then comes Natarajan. After an impressive 6-month journey, Natarajan became the key bowler for India in T20s, and a probable member of the squad in ODIs and Tests.

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Although Natarajan played a few first-class games, an impressive start has put him in the running in Tests. To add to it, the variety he brings to the team will be a great addition.

5. Washington Sundar

Like Natarajan and Shardul, Sundar was lucky to have things come his way. After a spate of injuries, Sundar became a part of the Indian Test team. But things got tricky when the India’s key spinners Ashwin and Jadeja were injured and Sundar had to take care of the spin bowling by himself.

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And he did a great job. Apart from playing the perfect sidekick to the pacers, Sundar made an impressive 62 runs with the bat. Sundar is a player who can do what Ashwin and Jadeja have been doing for years, and is in for the long run.


With so many good bowlers as backups, India surely has enough firepower to make another Test team.

Featured Image: BCCI | Twitter

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