India in New Zealand 2008-09 February 17, 2009

'Best new-ball pair in the world' needs support - Srinath

Cricinfo staff

Javagal Srinath feels "the best new-ball pair in the world at the moment" needs suitable back-up © Getty Images

Former India fast bowler Javagal Srinath has said that India need a capable third fast bowler if they are to maintain their recent consistency. Srinath rated Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma as "the best new-ball pair in the world" but said they would not remain effective if India's selectors persisted with a "musical chairs" policy.

"The third pacer has to be a walk-in choice in the team. It just can't be like the musical chairs as it is now," Srinath said at Bangalore's National Cricket Academy. "The longevity and form of Zaheer and Ishant will depend on what quality they get from the third seamer. Otherwise it will be case of what happened to [Venkatesh] Prasad and me where you bowl long spells, you get tired, and you lose your sting."

Srinath and Prasad formed a successful new-ball pairing for India in the 1990s but India still struggled, mostly overseas, with the two fast bowlers and Anil Kumble shouldering the attack. Zaheer's appearance in 2000 was a boost to a struggling side and for a brief while he shared the new ball with Srinath, the pair doing well in New Zealand and the 2003 World Cup that followed.

But in the past few years, pace has played a key role overseas and at home, proving that India are not spin-reliant any more. Since they have paired up, Ishant and Zaheer have become a force in varying conditions The skill with which the duo used the new, and particularly the old ball, played a crucial role in India's regaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy last year. Ishant has achieved what no Indian fast bowler has achieved since Kapil Dev in 1983 - he won a Player-of-the-Series award at home.

"They have produced tremendous results in the time they have been together," said Srinath. "There is no doubt they are the best bowling pair now."

India's selectors have picked Munaf Patel, L Balaji and rookie Dhawal Kulkarni for the upcoming Tests in New Zealand. Munaf, when fit, has appeared a strong contender to fill the third seamer's role. Srinath termed Munaf "a good prospect", and said he had produced good results at times. "All three [Munaf, L Balaji, and Dhawal Kulkarni] have done well in domestic cricket," he said. "But this is when you show you don't just belong in that space, you belong at the next level as well."

Srinath, who played three Tests in New Zealand, urged India's pace attack to bring the batsmen onto the front foot. "When the ball is moving around, you have to make the batsman play on the front foot," said Srinath of conditions that have assisted swing and seam. "Venky [Prasad] will be there to tell them all they need to know, but the rudiments don't change too much wherever you play. You have to make the batsman play, not allow him to leave too much.

"This is your time, when the team looks up to you to lead the way. You have to turn that added responsibility into a positive; if you think it is pressure, it will eat you up from within."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • adatia on February 20, 2009, 13:42 GMT

    why not sresanth ?..i mean he was gud when he left hw can v ignore !

  • spinkingKK on February 20, 2009, 10:12 GMT

    I agree with Srinath that Zaheer and Ishant are the best new ball pair in the world. I am surprised that the selectors haven't picked a back to fitness Sreesanth to bowl in New Zealand (fast bowlers' paradise). Remember what he done to the South Africans in South Africa? I can't see this Dawal Kulkarni to be anywhere near Sreesanth. I have seen Kulkarni in the IPL and eventhough he was picking wickets in that bash outs, he can't match the quality of Sreesanth.

  • Dustin on February 20, 2009, 8:32 GMT

    Last comments on this mundane topic. Firstly, cam_786…cheers mate, much appreciated. Secondly, to all those who have tried to use the stat regarding Sharma/Khan's higher percentage of top order batsmen…you fools - THERE IS NO ONE ELSE TO TAKE WICKETS. If you had read the article properly it's precisely what the deluded Srinath is pointing towards. As for Steyn/Ntini they have Morkel and the formidable all-rounder Kallis at first change. SA doesn't have to rely on their strike bowlers because they have class to follow! And please don't mention the disturbed Harbhajan Singh (he's an angry fellow with problems). Having said all that I would like to say I think the Indian team is hugely talented and I have always enjoyed watching them play. Good luck in NZ.

  • Kirstenfan on February 20, 2009, 7:35 GMT

    For all you fans out there who don't know the facts, but especially storm81 who needs some help, these are the results of series between SA and India since 2000.

    In SA 2001/02 - SA won 1 - 0 (last test cancelled as India did not accept ICC sanction) 2006/07 - SA won 2 - 1 (in a great series where India bowled better in SA than ever before)

    In India 2000 - SA won 2 -0 2004/05 - India won 1 - 0 2008 - Ind 1 - SA 1

    So really SA has done better in India than India has done in SA.

  • Kound on February 20, 2009, 4:46 GMT

    Firstly, it feels good that india has a nice new ball duo. However, i don't think Zaheer and Ishant are the best pair yet and maybe India's third seemer is making me think like this. Coming to the third seemer, im waiting to see the new kid Kulkarni coz ive never seen this guy, maybe he has something that india is looking for in the third seemer. Honestly, im not impressed with Mubaf, somehow whenever i see him i get a feeling that he could try a little n put in a little more effort and hit the deck a little more harder, i feel he lacks that venom or kilelr instinct or adrenalin, whatever u may call it that ishant has :)..... yeah, i like Ishant...common the hes just 20 and made Ricky (ponting) pee in his pant literally... i enjoyed that battle which Isahnt won. Maybe, I will be more closer in agreeing with Srinath if the Zaheer and Ishant help India win a couple of series away from home.

  • shovwar on February 20, 2009, 0:09 GMT

    This is the third time i am trying to post my comments. I donno if it would be posted or not. Well, with the new ball there is no question about Steyn and Ntini's abilities, which is far more dangerous than that of Zak and Sharma's. Plus they have a back up in Morkel. Zak/Sharma pair may be pretty handy with the old ball but they are behind the Proteas and the Aussies. I hope everyone remember what SA did to the Indian batting line up in India few months ago. I dont think India can do that in SA. Its all about winning the game for the team. And the SA attack have been proving it for the last two years. Lets see how the Indian batting line up cope with the NZ attack first. Then we can talk about performing in Aus and SA. Best of luck to them.....

  • sfnad on February 19, 2009, 22:18 GMT

    356 for 6 ! wow , thats great... i think we should do some research on other bowlers and see how good they have been. A couple of years back Zee khan didnt even had a place in test / ODI sides. anyway fast bowling has always been india's weak area. the best probably was Kapil Dave. I have seen him bowling in his best days, he was no really impressive in comparison to others of his era like Marshal, holding, hedley, lillie, imran, akram, botham, willis, sarfraz etc. and I totally agree inians are good at making a mountain out of mo hill. its not only in bowling in batting too. there has always been better batters in gwaskars time all over and in tendulakrs time but they will think otherwise. i would say Richards, chappel, boycott, zaheer, miandad, loyad etc were way better and yousaf, inzi, ponting, lara, jaisuria, sangakara are much better ... but they dont have an iconic (self proclaimed national) image at all. same is the case with this statement " best n new ball apir" .its a crap

  • cam_786 on February 19, 2009, 14:49 GMT

    Dustin - youre a fool. :)

  • storm81 on February 19, 2009, 14:47 GMT

    Look its simple really...SA and India are the two best teams in world cricket right now, the Aussies are order figure out which of the 2 teams is better, one has to beat the other away from home...SA couldnt beat India in India, India will travel to SA soon so if they can beat them the debate can stop, if not then it can carry on until SA visit India again...

  • DannoTheManno on February 19, 2009, 14:04 GMT

    Uh.... when was the last time India won a series outside of India. A truely average team. IF they beat New Zealand they will claim to be world beaters... if they loose... it was someone else's fault. This you can bet on!

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