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Pacers Bhuvneshwar, Shami outshine the spinners at Eden Gardens

India Today logo India Today 02-10-2016

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It's not too often that Indian cricket fans get to see their fast bowlers outperform the spinners in a Test match. The spin-friendly pitches in the sub-continent makes it very difficult for the pacers to restrict the flow of runs and pick up wickets on regular intervals.

But every once in a while when Indian curators do decide to make hard pitches and leave a tinge of grass on them, fast bowlers take over the job of taking wickets and outshine the spinners.

The ongoing second Test in Kolkata is one such example where Indian pace bowlers picked up majority of the wickets to fall. The Eden Gardens track for the past few years has been more helpful for the fast bowlers. The newly-laid surface in the ongoing match between India and New Zealand has seen 15 wickets being taken by the fast bowlers in the first two innings.

Black Caps pacers Matt Henry, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner together dismissed seven Indian batsmen in the first innings while Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami ran through the opposition batting lineup on the second and the third day to hand India a big lead in match.

Bhuvneshwar, who replaced Umesh Yadav in the playing XI for this game, was the star performer for the hosts as he picked up five wickets for 48 runs, while Shami grabbed three for 70 as New Zealand got bowled out for 204 to hand India a 112-run first innings lead. This was Bhuvneshwar's maiden five-wicket haul on home soil and his fourth overall in Test cricket. Spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja could only manage one wicket apiece.

There have been very few Tests played in India where pacers have got the better of the batsmen. Here is a list of the previous five instances:

INDIA vs WEST INDIES, 1st TEST, EDEN GARDENS (NOVEMBER 2013)

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Sachin Tendulkar's penultimate Test match was overshadowed by the debut of pace sensation Mohammed Shami at the Eden Gardens. Shami displayed an awesome exhibition of fast bowling and was specially lethal with the old ball as he finished the match with figures of 9/118. It was the best performance by an Indian fast bowler on debut, beating Munaf Patel's 7/97 against England at Mohali in 2006. Shami got 4 wickets in the first innings and his maiden five-wicket haul in the second as India won the match by an innings and 51 runs. Shami and Bhuvneshwar clinched 11 of the 20 wickets in that Test match.

INDIA vs WEST INDIES, 2nd TEST, EDEN GARDENS (NOVEMBER 2011)

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Once again Eden Gardens dished out a pace-friendly track and once again the opposition was the West Indies. Umesh Yadav, playing in just his second Test and comfortably India's fastest bowler in the side, clinched three wickets in the first innings and four in the second to hand India a series clinching win by an innings and 15 runs.

INDIA vs NEW ZEALAND, 3rd TEST, NAGPUR (NOVEMBER 2010)

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It was a series-deciding Test and both the teams had everything to play for after the first two matches ended in draws. A young Ishant Sharma and S Sreesanth stepped up for the hosts and destroyed the Black Caps to clinch an innings victory for India. Ishant finished with seven wickets in the match as India claimed the series at the VCA stadium in Jamtha.

INDIA vs AUSTRALIA, 1st TEST, MOHALI (OCTOBER 2010)

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The Boder-Gavaskar Trophy consisted of just two Test matches in 2010 with India facing Australia in the first match at Mohali. This famous Test will be remembered for the 11-run partnership between VVS Laxman and Pragyan Ojha for the last wicket which got India over the line in chase of 215. The match was also one of those rare occasions were pace dominated spin and Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma picked up 11 wickets between them in the match. Zaheer got eight wickets in total including a five-for in the first innings as India took an unassailable lead in the series.

INDIA vs AUSTRALIA, 1st TEST, M CHINNASWAMY STADIUM (OCTOBER 2008)

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Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma were in top form during the time and the Aussies bore the brunt of it as the duo picked up 13 wickets in the first match in Bangalore. Zaheer took a five-wicket haul in the first innings while Ishant clinched four wickets as Australia got bowled out for 430. Ishant then pipped his fast-bowling partner to take three wickets in the second innings, Zaheer scalped one as the match ended in a draw.

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