NEW DELHI: The Indian pace attack has been talked up of late and to be fair, they have done a decent job in South Africa. But Shoaib Akhtar sees it only as the beginning and says there is still a long way to go before India becomes a good fast bowling nation, Times of India has reported.
After a long gap, India have developed a sizeable pool of speedsters and five of them are with the squad in South Africa.
Is it one of the best pace attacks India have ever had?
"I would not say that. I would say they are gradually improving and there is a long way to go before India can call itself a good fast bowling nation," Akhtar said on Friday.
"Five years ago, I had thought that Varun Aroun, Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Shami will be the ones to lead India 's pace department on overseas tours.
"But that did not happen with Aaron having fitness issues, Yadav being good in patches and erratic other times, like Wahab Riaz.
But Akhtar said the current performance of the bowlers is a "healthy sign"
"...and the thinking that (Virat) Kohli and the team management seem to have, they will only get better.
"India have always been known for their batting but nowadays you are seeing emergence of fast bowlers too but still I would say long way to go," said the fearsome "Rawalpindi Express", who will be seen in action at St. Moritz Ice Cricket in Switzerland next month.
The bowlers certainly did their job at Newlands and Centurion, dismissing South Africa each time in four innings and out of the 40, 30 wickets were taken by the pacers.
As captain Kohli pointed out, it was the batting that let India down.
To many, India 's series loss in South Africa was not entirely surprising but according to Akhtar, the result was unexpected.
"I saw the first two Tests in bits and pieces. It would be wrong to say that it (India's loss) was expected. It is still one of the best Test teams.
"Yes, they did not play well. The batsmen should have applied themselves better. It is, may be, a result of a bad combination. Not taking wickets at the right time, not scoring enough runs.
"Most of the guys in the team are right up there. They need to go back to the drawing board. I am quite impressed with (Hardik) Pandya as well. It is just the batsmen who did not apply themselves on pitches that were not so tough to bat on."