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INDIA never had it so good as far as pace bowling was concerned At best the country had a lone pacer good enough to match the best in the business with little or no support from the other end Peerless Kapil Dev virtually ploughed a lonely furrow though a host of seamers shared the red cherry with him After Kapil quit cricket Javagal Srinath took over as the leading new ball bowler of India He shared the new ball with many seamers for over a decade without the benefit of a durable partner except for the period when Venkatesh Prasad was around Bowling long spells on placid tracks at home he started showing signs of wear and tear sooner than expected After Srinath called it a day Zaheer Khan looked the logical choice to take over as the pace spearhead but without the benefit of a steady partner Though pacers like Ajit Agarkar and Ashish Nehra at times also did well they lacked consistency the most crucial factor at this level of the game The long and arduous series Down Under has provided a fresh ray of hope that if they are groomed properly the perennial drought of quick bowlers that the country faced for so long can well be a thing of the past Irfan Pathan is already being touted as the find of the series while Laxmipathi Balaji impressed all with his consistency and accuracy Ironically the two seamers would have had to cool their heels on the benches had there be no injury problem to the first-choice seamers or had Srinath been around But by a sudden quirk of fate they were not only blooded into the team but also regularly shared the new ball with a fair degree of success If India returned from Australia with their reputation enhanced equal credit goes to Pathan and Balaji Pathan claimed the wicket of Mathew Hayden off a delivery that deviated
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