In the next two years, the Indian cricket team will embark on some major tours. After playing extensively at home in 2017, long series abroad in South Africa, England and Australia will be the next tough test for Virat Kohli and Co.

Fast bowling is set to be key in these tours and India’s pace battery will be under focus. According to Australia bowling great Glenn McGrath, the Indian team has shown the right balance over the last two years.

“India has some exciting talent, players who have proved themselves,” McGrath, who is part of the MRF Pace Foundation, said. “Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are swinging the ball, while the likes of Ishant Sharma is the hit-the-deck seam bowler.”

He added, “There is a lot of variety, and they are bowling well together. Like batsmen work with partnerships, so do bowlers. India have a great mix of bowlers who have now bowled together for a long time and have formed a good partnership among themselves. When they go abroad, where wickets are fast-bowler friendly, I am sure they will do well.”

The former Australia pacer said that while the Indian bowlers were shaping up well, they should focus on maintaining fitness. This would be key if they are to perform at the top level, especially during taxing tours abroad, he added.

Umesh bowling really well

McGrath praised Umesh Yadav for his ability to stay fit and bowl fast despite the strenuous schedule. The Vidarbha pacer played 12 out of India’s 13 home Tests last season.

“Umesh Yadav is bowling really well at the moment,” McGrath said. “He is up [playing] match after match. He knows, or rather he should know, how to prepare himself, how to recover. I always say being fit is not so much how long you can bowl for; it is [about] how quickly you recover and as we get older we get to know ourselves better.”

McGrath also warned that Yadav could have an off-season after bowling for so long. “If you keep bowling whole year without an off season and bowl next year, sooner or later injuries are going to creep in,” he said. “You have got have a break to put that strength and fitness back in. Indian bowlers are going well and [Umesh] knows how to recover, and when you know that you’ve got less chances of injuries.”

The 47-year-old said it was quite rare to find bowlers who bowl really fast, but added that he was always on the look out for such talents in India. “Express bowlers are very rare and I’m always on the look-out for one,” he said. “India is probably the toughest place in the world to be a fast bowler, but that plays a part. But [bowling] 150 [kph] plus is rare.”

McGrath also said he was pleased that Twenty20 cricket was not having an impact on the art of fast bowling. “It is heartening to see that bowlers are not slowing down,” he said. “To get an IPL contract, you still need to bowl well and then get the attention. So i feel, bowlers still need to make a mark through their over all game, so I don’t feel there is much of a threat to genuine fast bowling.”