Trinidad: India's ascent to the top of world cricket, however brief, was arguably based on or coincided with, the discovery of several fast men who complemented the spin of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, and worked well together with a strong batting unit.
The fast-bowling component is integral in my view because you cannot win enough Test matches to vault above all other teams without the ability to take 20 wickets away from the subcontinent. To win enough in England, New Zealand, the West Indies, and to compete in the much tougher environments of South Africa and Australia, pace is non-negotiable. I am not for one moment advocating that spin doesn't have a role in these conditions. What I am stating is that on harder, truer pitches, the first half of a Test match will usually relegate spinners, apart from the very best, to a less dominant supporting role.
As India attempts to take strides to redeem themselves after recent poor overseas performances, they are fortunate to still have the services of Zaheer Khan. In the short term, Zaheer still has the task of guiding and mentoring a couple of young quicks. A father figure, if you will.