Bangladesh v India, 2nd ODI, Asia Cup, Dambulla June 15, 2010

Testing times for India's bowlers

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Going into the Asia Cup, India's biggest worry is the bowling. The country's fast bowling stocks have rarely been healthier than a couple of years ago when a new generation of quicks fuelled the hopes of Indian fans. Cut to the present, the form and confidence of that bunch has waned and the attack is being led by 30-somethings Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra, both of whom were an integral part of the bowling as far back as the 2003 World Cup.

The first-choice trio of Zaheer, Nehra and Praveen Kumar are back for the Asia Cup, but the search for quality back-up for them has proved fruitless so far. Ishant, Sreesanth and RP Singh have struggled for consistency, while each of the half-dozen seamers who have been tried over the past six months have proved to be works in progress, with only Ashok Dinda making it to Sri Lanka.

MS Dhoni has backed the talent scouting. "We have plenty of options, but we don't have too many experienced fast bowlers," he said, "and its better if the youngsters are given a chance because all of a sudden, if your experienced bowlers like Zaheer Khan or Ashish Nehra get injured you should have someone as a back-up for a high-pressure tournament like the World Cup."

The spin bowling is likely to prove crucial in Dambulla, and it is headed by India's most successful bowler in Sri Lanka, Harbhajan Singh, whose last performance in the country was a match-turning five-wicket haul in the final of the Compaq Cup in 2009. However, as with the fast bowling, the hunt continues for reliable support performers.

Ravindra Jadeja currently seems to be on the inside track for the second spinner's spot. He may have had a year to forget as far as Twenty20s are concerned - being banned from the IPL and following it up with a horror World Twenty20 in the Caribbean - but he has proved to be a canny bowler in one-dayers, as his career economy-rate of 4.90 testifies.

It is Jadeja's unfussy batting that gives him an edge over the other contenders for the fifth bowler's slot. It may lack the overdrive needed in the high-scoring one-dayers that are the norm in the subcontinent, but can prove effective in Dambulla where scoring is usually less frenetic.

The two other spinners in the squad had reasonable tours of Zimbabwe - left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha who returned after more than a year out of the one-day side and offspinner R Ashwin, getting his first international games - but will probably spend time on the bench before getting another chance.

India have an ordinary record in multi-team tournaments over the past decade, having won three titles and shared two in 27 one-day competitions. To improve on that they'll need the returning big guns of their batting - Dhoni, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir - to fire.

"It's good the seniors got a break," coach Gary Kirsten said after the team's practice session on Tuesday evening. "I'm happy with the way the Twenty20 games went in Zimbabwe, and I'm looking forward to the tournament. This is a new beginning before the World Cup."

More than the seniors, the focus is likely to be on the three batsmen who jetted into Sri Lanka on Tuesday after completing the Twenty20s in Zimbabwe. Suresh Raina captained the youngsters there, while Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli were the best Indian batsmen in the one-dayers. All three could well be fighting for one spot when Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh return to the side, which makes the Asia Cup vital to their chances of staying in the XI as the World Cup approaches.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rooroo on June 16, 2010, 17:10 GMT

    Yes Indian team is lacking quality fast bowlers but then there is no much time 2 bring in a new bowler before worldcup rather India have a good set of spin bowling allrounders and we should try to utilize that. Our main 15 which we should take for worldcup should be SEWAG, SACHIN, GAMBIR, RAINA, YUVRAJ, DHONI, JADEJA, HARBOJAN, PRAVEEN KUMAR, ZAHEER n NEHRA (the 11) n then KOHLI , OJHA, YUSUF N 1 FAST BOWLER(Dinda/vinay) We have solid openers a good number 3(whu can open if needed) a good middle order in Raina Yuvi, Kohli n Dhoni , Jadeja, Yusuf n Harbojan allrounders ( even Praveen 2 an extent) n then 3 Fast bowlers in Praveen Zaheer n Nehra n 1 Xtra fast bowler as backup. The only problem is we don't have a keeper for replacement n lets hope its not needed. In Subcontinent pitches this is a very good attack. I prefer Dinda over other bowlers for that last spot because of his death bowling ability( which india lacks). ALL THE BEST INDIA! Lets win it for SACHIN!!

  • Bombayorker28 on June 16, 2010, 16:08 GMT

    Agree with thatsy,soumyas,rsurya, 6x_CS_King,Nampally,Kushank Gulati. Jadeja should NOT be in the team. Pick a specialist instead. Sad how the 'so called cricket experts' can't see the obvious, he can't bat, can't bowl, can't field.

  • ticktac on June 16, 2010, 15:58 GMT

    Jadejas batting gives him an edge ...huh...is this a joke?? means that u r trying to portray him as a bowling allrounder....come on....he is a sure shot match loser

  • Fazallullah on June 16, 2010, 15:54 GMT

    one thing all should think of is dont take IPL as a platform for picking players in the INTERNATIONAL ONE DAY TEAM in IPL a bowler can bowl max of 4 ov if he is taken for runs the main reason is first MONEY FOR MORE SIXES second small ground and finally fast outfields even a bowler bowls well for his 3 ov and gone for more runs in the last over then the judgement is he doesnt bowl well SO IPL SHOULD NOT BE CONCERNED FOR ONE DAY CRICKET

  • Daba on June 16, 2010, 15:41 GMT

    Irfan pathan should have been included in the squad as fast bowling allrounder, He s more capable. It'll be a good contest to see Ind playing Pak. Go india goooooooooooooo. Aravin

  • danishahmed5795 on June 16, 2010, 14:43 GMT

    I think Irfan Pathan should be given a chance to prove himself.

  • cricfanraj on June 16, 2010, 13:55 GMT

    @Avinash Ranjan .. buddy you took me completely wrong. I'm not saying that Irfan pathan is a bad player . He is an excellent player and I'm a fan when he was playing under 19 also. But if you see his bowling in any of the recent matches and e still saying that he is bowling well , I disagree with that statement. He is not half as good as he can be. First thing is this unnecessary hype for allrounder should go away. He is a bowler first and to create an allrounder forciblely we already destroyed a very good bowler.This should not continue.Having an all rounder is not mandatory .7 good batsmen and 4 good bowlers can always do the job given we have someone like viru and ...All that I'm saying is we need Irfan as a front line bowler not as batsmen who can score 20 in lower order. And whatever I saw in recent past I din't impressed with his bowling. Remind me if there is one good performance where he ran through even a domestic side also or troubled a international batsmen.I wish I'm wrong

  • vikicork on June 16, 2010, 12:54 GMT

    Also i think we should play 7 batsmen and four bowlers ,Ganguly used to do that with great success the fifth bowlers overs can be shared by Sehwag ,Yuvraj and Raina theres no point in taking 3 pacemen ,they always and i mean always get hit ,so imitating other countries who have great pacemen like Australia or even Sri Lanka or Pakistan is not going to work , i remember when West Indies packed their team with batsmen/all rounders and won world cup Ideal ODI team Sachin ,Sehwag,Gambhir,Raina,Yuvraj,Dhoni,Kohli ,Irfan,Harbhajan,Jadeja /Ashwin/Ojha,Praveen we would bat down till number 10 ,give up the same number of runs we do now or less

    Why cant they see this ????? Ganguly would do this and at least with team selection hes way better han Dhoni though Dhoni better i think with inspiration

  • vikicork on June 16, 2010, 12:42 GMT

    ardent_crciket lover just because a deserving TN cricketer was not selected in the past dosent mean an undeserving one should be selected now , two wrongs do not equal a right , Srikkanth might have not selected more than one TN player for this Asia cup(there was noone he could select given how they have played) but he has shown time and time again a willingness to give chances to TN players over and above any states players Yes he was the man of the match in our most glorious moment when we won the world cup ,i was a big fan of his as a player but he has been terrible and biased as a selector .if Irfan wants to get into the side he will have to somehow switch from the Kings to the Super Kings in the IPL and for his sake i hope it happens but we need him before that for the world cup! I remember when Dhoni had selected Manoj Tiwari over Raina in an ODI and i was like why ?? then when Raina was selected by CSK to play under Dhoni i was happy ,Irfan needs to do same

  • rahu367 on June 16, 2010, 11:40 GMT

    india should give dinda a chance as we have many spinners but there is no back up fast bowler and if he anyone got injured in the world cup . he can bowl like a experienced compainor

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