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As a cricket playing country, India isn’t always renowned for their ability to produce fast bowlers. The truth is that they have developed some seriously good pacemen over the years, and this is a list of the best of those players.
Best 10 Indian Fast Bowlers
Ashish Nehra’s speed, swing and left arm line of delivery made him a very effective bowler, particularly in overseas conditions. In terms of pace, his fastest delivery was clocked at 149.7kph so he’s definitely no slouch.
He played in just 17 tests but featured in 164 internationals across the three formats. Nehra claimed 235 wickets and his best figures of 6/23 came in an ODI.
I can remember Ajit Agarkar famously scoring a century against England, but he is better known for his exploits with the ball. He could regularly bowl at above 145kph and added swing and seam into his armoury.
He only played in 26 tests but was far more productive in the ODI arena where Agarkar took 288 wickets in 191 games with a best of 6/42.
Mohammad Nissar was considered to be India’s first ever fast bowler and one of the country’s best ever cricketers. He played in just six tests between 1932 and 1936 but this was a time when far fewer international games were staged.
He made an instant impact, taking two wickets in his second over on debut. Nissar’s speed is unrecorded, but he was effective, claiming 25 victims at an average of 28.28 in those six games.
A fast bowler of the modern age, Varun Aaron is capable of hitting the 150kph mark with the ball. He’s played in just 18 internationals for India at a time when there is a lot of competition but maybe there is time for some more.
In those 18 games, Aaron has taken 29 wickets and his best figures of 3/24 came in an ODI.
Zaheer Khan was a similar bowler to Ashish Nehra in style but he was far more reliable and played in more games as a result. In fact, he played in more than 300 international matches and claimed 610 wickets in that time.
His fastest delivery was clocked at 147kph and that speed helped him to deliver test best figures of 7/87.
Statistics show that Irfan Pathan may be the fastest of all the Indian bowlers up to this point. Against Pakistan in 2007, one of his deliveries was clocked at an impressive 153.7kph.
He could certainly be effective, but Pathan played at a time when competition for the seam bowling slots was high. Another left armer, he featured in just 29 tests but was selected for 144 limited overs matches. He claimed 301 wickets with a best in tests of 7/59.
He was such a great all round talent that we may sometimes forget about Kapil Dev’s qualities with the ball. He had good speed, even if he couldn’t quite be compared to some of the paciest men from Australia and the West Indies during the 1980s.
Kapil was also a great captain and his finest moment came when he led India to victory in the World Cup final of 1983.
It’s a shame that Sreesanth’s career was tainted by allegations and suspensions. I always liked to watch him play as he showed some real character and aggression with the ball.
It was good to see him get some kind of redemption at the end of his career. He could bowl up to a maximum of around 145kph and his qualities helped him to deliver 169 international victims with best figures in an ODI of 6/55.
When he was at his very best, RP Singh’s fastest deliveries were capable of hitting speeds of around 147kph. That pace may have deserted him later in his career, but he was effective for India between 2005 and 2011.
Singh played in 14 tests and 58 ODI matches during that six-year period. He took 109 wickets with a best in tests of 5/59.
Venkatesh Prasad would be classed as a medium pacer in today’s game but his speeds of around 120kph were among the fastest out of all Indian bowlers during his playing days. It’s an indication of how the team would rely more on spin rather than speed.
He was more effective in the One Day arena where he claimed 196 wickets in 161 ODIs. It was those performances that see him squeeze onto this list. He wasn’t the fastest or the best, but Venkatesh Prasad’s speed was certainly effective when the conditions were in his favour.
Fastest Bowler at Present
Third on India’s list in terms of fastest deliveries at the start of 2022 is Umesh Yadav. Playing against Sri Lanka in 2012, he sent down a ball that was measured at 152.5kph. He’s featured in 134 international matches up to January 2022 and still has time to add to that total.
Umesh has claimed 273 wickets in that time and has a best in test matches of 6/88.
Having watched Mohammed Shami in England in 2018, I was impressed with his swing and seam so I was a little surprised to learn how fast he can bowl. Shami’s fastest recorded delivery has been put down at 153.3kph against Australia in 2014 and that puts him second on the overall list behind Irfan Pathan.
He may be slowing down but is still effective and Shami has 370 international wickets at the time of writing.
He’s still only 34 and, while India may have moved on in some formats, Ishant Sharma can still be classified as a ‘current’ cricketer for now. He’s tall and can generate good bounce and he also used to bowl seriously quick.
His fastest delivery came against Australia in 2008 and it was recorded at 152.6kph. He may not reach those speeds again, but I think that Ishant can still be effective in all three formats.
With his unusual run up and his fast, slingy action, it’s no surprise that Jasprit Bumrah is capable of bowling at high speeds. His fastest delivery to date came against Australia in 2018 and it was recorded at 153.26kph.
At the age of 28 at the time of writing, Bumrah still has time to bowl even faster. He’ll also be certain to add to a tally of 156 international matches which have produced 303 wickets and a best in tests of 7/27.
Having made a breakthrough at the 2021 IPL for Sunrisers Hyderabad, Umran Malik has the potential to become India’s fastest bowler of all time. He has some serious pace and is capable of sending down deliveries in excess of 156kph.
That sheer pace saw Malik called up to India’s T20 squad to face South Africa in 2022 and it will be fascinating to watch his development. As for those Indian speed records that we’ve mentioned in this review, they are almost certain to be broken as soon as Umran Malik starts to play international cricket.
Indian Fast Bowlers who Played 100 Tests
The ability to stay fit and in form over a long period of time is a testament to a player’s quality. It’s a remarkable achievement for a fast bowler to play 100 tests and Kapil Dev was the first to reach this milestone.
He eventually retired after playing in 131 tests. He took 434 wickets in that time with best figures in an innings of 9/83.
Ishant Sharma played his most recent test match for India in 2021. This was his 105th game in this format and it may well be his last. In those 105 tests, Ishant took 311 wickets with best figures in an innings of 7/74.