Stats: Indian Pace Bowling Transformation under Virat Kohli

It’s been six years for the arrival of Virat Kohli as the Test captain of India. Kohli took over as India’s Test captain in December 2014 under challenging circumstances when the team was languishing at number 7 in the ICC Rankings. Five years down the lane, India has reached the top spot in ICC Test Rankings.  The main reason for India’s remarkable transformation and success under Kohli as Test captain has been agility of pace bowlers under his tenure.

From the time when Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi played four spinners in a Test match in England to pacers leaving nothing for the spinners in a home Test, is a remarkable transformation. India always used to depend on the spinners in Red-ball format. But the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav have proved their abilities and consistency in their line and lengths, making them as the deadliest pace unit in this cricketing era.


  • Virat always believed in pace attack, his approach of the game was to use pace attack and making them lethal for the batsman.
  • Fitness is one of the critical aspects of this team. Virat has set an example for fitness in the group.
  • Fast bowlers have become matured enough to understand the conditions and strategize their way accordingly.


The Pace Battery under Virat Kohli

Indian Pace bowling performances before and after Virat Kohli captaincy
Indian pace bowling record before and after Virat’s captaincy
  • Overall, the five Indian pacers have combined to take 453 Test wickets in just under 53 Tests under Virat Kohli.
  • The combined Strike Rate of Indian pacers under Virat is 50.6, and the combined average is 25.81, which is the fifth-best among the captains in world Test history.

Pace bowling since January 2018

Country wise pace bowling records since 2018
Pace bowling records since January 2018
  • We can see that India has a brilliant average of 21.33, which is the best among the Test-playing nations.
  • Also, India has toured Australia, England, South Africa, and West Indies during this phase.

Home dominance

Indian seamers under Virat Kohli at home
Indian pace bowling under Virat Kohli at home
  • India has traveled around the globe and portrayed their sheer skill of pace bowling. But India has been dominant in their home conditions too.
  • The average and Strike Rate of pace bowlers astonish under Virat’s captaincy. Indian conditions don’t offer a much for seam bowlers, but they have adapted to the conditions quite well during Virat’s phase.
  • These numbers show the impact of Jasprit Bumrah’s arrival in 2017.
  • The numbers look different after the arrival of Bumrah into the Test format. Many doubted him when he made his Test debut; he was well known for his variations in the shorter format. But he adopted his skills, changed his line and length for the red-ball format. He looks utterly different bowler since he made his debut.
  • The best stat to look out from here is that number of wickets/Tests after November 2017 is 10.00, which is quite astonishing compared to the number 4.41 before 2017.
Indian pace bowling under Virat Kohli vs MS Dhoni
Indian fast bowling performance under Virat vs Dhoni

Performance outside Asian countries

India Tour of England, 2018:

Indian seamers in ENgland 2018
Indian pacers in England Test Series 2018
  • This was one of the best pace units for India in England.
  • The Indian bowlers made use of the conditions quite well.
Video from England and Wales Cricket Board

India Tour of South Africa, 2018:

Indian seamers vs South Africa 2018
Indian pacers in South Africa Test Series 2018
  • South African series was the series where Jasprit Bumrah made his Test debut.
  • This was the first series where Indian fast bowlers matched their skills with the South African pace unit.
  • Although India lost the series by 2-1, many critics acclaimed the skills and the strength shown by the Indian pace attack.

Border – Gavaskar Trophy, 2018-19:

Indian seamers vs Australia 2018:19
Indian pacers in Australia Test Series 2018/19
  • One of the iconic series in Indian history, the Border – Gavaskar Trophy, 2018-19.
  • Pace bowling was responsible for the memorable win against Aussies, even here they did better than the hosts.
  • Virat excellently used the pace attack better depending on the conditions compared to the hosts.

Conclusions: –

  • India has played 10 Test series since 2017. The pace bowlers have averaged less than 25 and struck at under 50 balls per wicket.
  • Umesh Yadav (17.25), Jasprit Bumrah (19.24), Ishant Sharma (19.43), Shami (22.72) – are featured in the top 10 Test Bowlers (minimum of 30 wickets) from 1st January 2018.
  • With the emphatic win against Bangladesh in the Pink-ball Test, India has won a Test without a wicket from their spinners for the first time.

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