Best Indian Fast Bowlers Of All Time – Kapil Dev, Bumrah and more

In the rich tapestry of Indian cricket, spinners and batsmen have often taken the spotlight. Menacing fast bowlers was a rare commodity in Indian cricket, but that started to change over the past few decades. The emergence of world-class pacers has added a new dimension to the country's cricketing landscape.

Choosing a list of all-time greats is an incredibly challenging undertaking. To make this task more manageable, we have decided to focus on discussing the top Indian pacers from three distinct eras.

Best Indian Fast Bowlers Before 1990 (The Start of the True ‘Modern' Era)

India began to witness the rise of exceptional fast bowlers in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This period marked a significant turning point for Indian cricket, as a new generation of pacers emerged and left their indelible mark on the international stage.

Chetan Sharma

Chetan Sharma

Chetan Sharma had many bona fide speedster moments throughout his decade-long career. He sent Mohsin Khan to the pavilion with the fifth ball of his test career, becoming only the third Indian to pick up a wicket in their first-ever international over. 

During the 1987 World Cup match between India and New Zealand, Sharma cemented his place in cricketing history by becoming the first-ever bowler to achieve a hat-trick in a World Cup match. He began by dislodging the stumps of Ken Rutherford. Continuing his rampage, Sharma delivered a lethal delivery to dismiss Ian Smith. To top it off, he then successfully displaced the bails of Ewen Chatfield. Besides making World Cup history, the Haryana-born pacer also became the first Indian bowler to accomplish a hat-trick in any format of international cricket.

Sharma's stature of 5'3 may not have fitted the conventional mould of a fast bowler, but it did not deter him from achieving his dream of representing his nation. He went on to become one of the best Indian fast bowlers we have ever seen, but injuries severely limited his time at the top.

  • Bowling Style: Right-arm Fast-medium
  • Age: 57y
  • Test Wickets Taken: 61
  • ODI Wickets Taken: 67
  • Test Bowling Average: 35.45
  • ODI Bowling Average: 34.86

Roger Binny

Roger Binny is considered one of the finest swing bowlers India has ever seen. The sultan of swing was also the first-ever Anglo-Indian to play for India. Even though he primarily relied on his swinging mastery to take wickets, Binny produced some standout spells on conventional Indian flat tracks as well. 

Binny's career figures in Test cricket show 47 wickets from 27 matches, achieving an average of 32.63 and a strike rate of 61. While his wickets per Test count might seem comparatively low for someone mentioned alongside the best Indian fast bowlers, it should be taken into account that Binny's bowling opportunities were limited to lfewer than 18 overs per Test.

The right-arm pacer’s ODI numbers are more impressive. He accumulated 77 wickets in 72 ODI outings for India. Binny spearheaded the Indian bowling attack in the World Cup-winning campaign of 1983. He finished the tournament with an 18-wicket haul, which made him the highest wicket-taker of the competition. 

  • Bowling Style: Right-arm Medium
  • Age: 67y
  • Test Wickets Taken: 47
  • ODI Wickets Taken: 77
  • Test Bowling Average: 32.63
  • ODI Bowling Average: 29.35

Kapil Dev

Kapil Dev, who led his country to its first World Cup glory in 1983, leads the pack of top Indian fast bowlers, boasting an impressive tally of over 680 wickets across both formats of the game played at the time. The legendary all-rounder will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the best seamers ever to bless the cricket world.

With his ability to generate swing in both directions, Kapil Dev posed a constant threat to batsmen. Considering that he hails from a country where pitches heavily favour spin bowlers, his Test cricket bowling average of 29 is quite impressive. In fact, it's still the highest among Indian pacers who played more than 70 Tests. Moreover, he holds the distinction of being the first Indian fast bowler to claim 400 Test wickets. 

  • Bowling Style: Right-arm Fast-medium
  • Age: 64y
  • Test Wickets Taken: 434
  • ODI Wickets Taken: 253
  • Test Bowling Average: 29.64
  • ODI Bowling Average: 27.45

Best Indian Fast Fast Bowlers Between 1990-2007, Start of the T20 Era

As limited-overs cricket started to gain prominence, fast bowlers had to adapt to the evolving landscape. Pacers from this era competed in the modern age of coloured jerseys and also witnessed the emergence of T20 cricket.

Javagal Srinath

Javagal Srinath entered the scene when Kapil Dev was approaching the swan song of his career. He had pretty big shoes to fill, but he lived up to the challenge and stepped up as India's primary pace weapon.

In his early days, Srinath was the fastest among his compatriots. His pace, however, dropped a notch as his career advanced, but he added more tricks to his arsenal to keep himself relevant in the all-time best Indian fast bowlers debate.

Before being overtaken by Zaheer Khan (311) and, more recently, Ishant Sharma (311), Srinath stood as the second-highest wicket-taker among Indian fast bowlers in Test matches, amassing a total of 236 wickets. In ODIs, only Anil Kumble (334) bettered Srinath's 315-wicket haul.

  • Bowling Style: Right-arm Fast-medium
  • Age: 53y 
  • Test Wickets Taken: 236
  • ODI Wickets Taken: 315
  • Test Bowling Average: 30.49
  • ODI Bowling Average: 28.08

Zaheer Khan

At one point, Zaheer Khan was hailed as the finest bowler in the world. He made his mark on the international stage during the 2000 Champions Trophy by dismissing Steve Waugh, a moment that garnered attention. While his early career showcased his speed and natural ability, it took him time to develop the necessary control required for consistent success at the elite level.

It was in 2006 that Zaheer's game reached new heights, thanks to his stint at Worcestershire in English County cricket. His impressive tally of 76 wickets marked the arrival of a more polished and refined Khan.

The left-arm seamer ended his career with 311 Test and 282 ODI wickets, making him one of the frontrunners in the best Indian fast bowlers race. 

  • Bowling Style: Left-arm Fast-medium
  • Age: 44y
  • Test Wickets Taken: 311
  • ODI Wickets Taken: 282
  • Test Bowling Average: 32.94
  • ODI Bowling Average: 29.43

Irfan Pathan


Upon stepping into the spotlight, Irfan Pathan was celebrated as India's upcoming bowling talisman. In fact, he was even likened to the legendary Wasim Akram! While it was premature to make such a comparison, Pathan undeniably possessed a genuine talent for swinging the ball, reminiscent of the Pakistan maestro.

At just 19 years old, he marked his Test debut for India in 2003. It was his first international tour outside of India in 2004, however, that truly caught everyone's attention. The boy from Baroda flew to Australia on his first overseas mission. 

A resolute young lad, coming from a modest town, he yearned to test his abilities against the elite beyond his familiar surroundings. Due to the remarkable form of his fellow Baroda player, Zaheer Khan, the young pacer had scarce chances to showcase his talent. Pathan exhibited flashes of brilliance, nonetheless, notably with a captivating inswinging delivery that dismantled Adam Gilchrist's stumps. It seemed evident that this boy would become one of the top Indian fast bowlers. 

Pathan is widely considered to be the best swing bowler in Indian cricket to date. One of his greatest strengths lay in his unique high-arm action, meticulously crafted to bring the ball back towards right-handed batsmen. This specific technique allowed him to execute deliveries with remarkable accuracy, causing the ball to curve back towards right-handed batsmen, thereby heightening the chances of securing leg-before wicket or bowled dismissals.

  • Bowling Style: Left arm Medium fast
  • Age: 38y
  • Test Wickets Taken: 1105
  • ODI Wickets Taken: 1544
  • T20 Wickets Taken: 2020
  • Test Bowling Average: 31.57
  • ODI Bowling Average: 23.39
    T20 Bowling Average: 22.95

Top Indian Fast Bowlers From 2008-Present

Since 2008, Indian pacers have experienced a remarkable transformation. Higher emphasis on fitness, improved support systems, and technical refinement have led to this significant improvement. Here are our picks for the best Indian fast bowlers in this period.

Ishant Sharma

Ishnat Sharma

Ishant Sharma’s tall, lean figure is reminiscent of legendary pacers like Glenn McGrath and Curtly Ambrose. Beyond the physical resemblance, Sharma showcased the potential to match the heights achieved by these iconic pacers at some point in his career. Indian cricket fans firmly believed that they had discovered the ideal bowling partner for Zaheer, elevating their hopes for the future of Team India's bowling unit.

Despite being recognized as one of the greatest Indian fast bowlers during his peak, Ishant has struggled to maintain consistency throughout his career. This inconsistency could be attributed to his challenges in handling the heightened expectations placed upon him. While there is no denying Sharma's exceptional abilities, his overall career trajectory falls short of the lofty expectations that surrounded him.

Despite appearing to be past his prime not too long ago, the pacer's recent displays for Delhi Capitals suggest he still has some fight left in him. This prompts the question: Might we witness the towering speedster donning the national team jersey once again? It's too early to rule out the possibility altogether.

  • Bowling Style: Right-arm Fast-medium
  • Age: 34y
  • Test Wickets Taken: 311
  • ODI Wickets Taken: 115
  • T20 Wickets Taken: 127
  • Test Bowling Average: 32.40
  • ODI Bowling Average: 30.98
    T20 Bowling Average: 33.40

Jasprit Bumrah

In 2019, India captain Virat Kohli described Jasprit Bumrah as the most complete bowler in world cricket. It was hard to refute the claim given the unbelievable numbers Bumrah was racking up at the time. 

In his first three years in international cricket, he made a significant impact by securing 103 wickets in 58 ODIs, boasting an average of 21.88 and an economy rate of 4.49. His contributions in T20Is were equally impressive, amassing 51 wickets in 42 matches with an economy rate of 6.71. Additionally, he showcased his prowess in the IPL, amassing a commendable 82 wickets in 77 games. However, it is in Test matches where he truly excelled, leaving a lasting impression with 62 wickets in just 12 matches, maintaining an exceptional average of 19.24.

As time progressed, Bumrah's prowess only grew. By July 2022, he had achieved the coveted status of being the world's top-ranked bowler. Bumrah's rise to prominence can be attributed to his unorthodox action, characterized by hyperextended elbows and an idiosyncratic run-up marked by short, stuttering strides. Despite his unconventional approach, his ability to generate significant pace remains undeterred, while his distinctive release point adds to the challenge faced by batsmen in deciphering his bowling. The 29-year-old is one of the best death-over bowling specialists in the world. 

  • Bowling Style: Right-arm Fast
  • Age: 29y 
  • Test Wickets Taken: 128
  • ODI Wickets Taken: 121
  • T20 Wickets Taken: 256
  • Test Bowling Average: 21.99
  • ODI Bowling Average: 24.30
  • T20 Bowling Average: 21.54

Mohammed Shami

Mohammed Shami

Mohammed Shami, together with Bumrah and Ishant, formed the formidable pace trinity that has elevated the standard of Indian bowling to new heights. Shami holds the distinction of being the quickest Indian bowler to claim 100 ODI wickets and boasts the rare feat of securing a World Cup hat-trick, making him just the second player in the history of Indian cricket to accomplish this remarkable feat.

In January 2013, Shami introduced himself to the international arena with a memorable ODI debut against Pakistan, where he left an indelible mark by bowling four maiden overs. Ten months later, during his commendable Test debut, the talented pacer from Uttar Pradesh made a significant impact by claiming an impressive five-wicket haul against the West Indies.

  • Bowling Style: Right-arm Fast
  • Age: 32y 
  • Test Wickets Taken: 229
  • ODI Wickets Taken: 162
  • T20 Wickets Taken: 190
  • Test Bowling Average: 27.71
  • ODI Bowling Average: 25.98
    T20 Bowling Average: 24.23

Promising Indian Fast Bowlers Currently Playing 

Thanks to India's recent fast bowler boom, the country is now full of promising, quick bowlers who can perform at the highest level. Here are a few more top Indian fast bowlers who deserve a shoutout in this piece. 

Umran Malik 

Umran Malik has emerged as the indisputable fastest bowler in India, leaving his competitors far behind. Since his IPL debut in 2021, the buzz surrounding him has been solely about his extraordinary pace, a phenomenon unprecedented in Indian cricket. In the IPL 2022, Malik shattered records by reaching an astonishing speed of 156 km/h, setting a new benchmark as the fastest-ever recorded speed by an Indian fast bowler. His incredible speed was not limited to domestic competitions as he debuted in ODIs and T20Is for India, consistently reaching a similar pace of 155 km/h, thus becoming the fastest Indian bowler in international cricket.

Prasidh Krishna

Prasidh Krishna is counted among the crop of young Indian fast bowlers who exhibit immense potential for Test cricket. A significant advantage for Krishna lies in his height, which allows him to make a formidable impact during the middle overs in white-ball cricket by generating considerable bounce. The lanky Rajasthan Royals speedster has consistently recorded speeds of 150 km/h and above, demonstrating his raw pace before his recent injury.

Umesh Yadav 

Veteran fast bowler Umesh Yadav continues to exhibit prime form in his bowling. He has consistently delivered sensational performances in Test cricket, particularly on home grounds. Despite facing competition and a decline in his position within the team, the 35-year-old has upheld remarkable levels of energy and team spirit. This is evident in his exceptional displays whenever he represents India. Yadav's unwavering dedication to maintaining fitness through rigorous workouts and focused efforts is unquestionable. As a result, he consistently achieves speeds of 145 km/h and above on the speedometer.

Jish BJish B

Born to a cricket-crazy father and a writer mother, Jish combined his parents' passions to fuel his own dreams of being a sports journalist. If it's got a scoring system and needs to be written about, chances are this guy has written about it.