Many pundits have been writing off India’s bowling as awful, citing her bowling against Bagladesh and England as case studies that prove their collective hypothesis.
However, Sanjay Subrahmanyan tweeted the fallacy of this position this morning. He tweets on his timeline (@sanjaysub): “Indian bowling not upto the mark for allowing Eng to score 338. Eng bowling upto the mark becos it was the Ind batting that scored 338!”
And that is really the point. If we accept the hypothesis that the India bowling is terrible, then surely, the England bowling ought to be equally bad!
That said, it is fair to accept a position that IF India lose this World Cup it will probably be more due to the collective failure of her bowling than her batting! The batting does look solid on paper. The problem for all other teams is that the batting looks more solid on the park than it actually is on paper! For the batting to be stronger on the park, India needs (a) Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni to be hitting the ball well. (b) Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli to fire. (c) Yusuf Pathan and Yuvraj Singh to start middling the ball. All three of the above are happening. I have rarely seen Sachin Tendulkar as much in the “zone” as he was when he batted against England. Virender Sehwag looks dangerous. MS Dhoni is on top of his game. Yuvraj Singh is starting to middle the ball well. All other batting chinks are being ironed out.
There is no point pillorying and bemoaning the fielding. India is not going to ship up her fielding mid-way through a World Cup. As Dhoni mentioned in a recent interview: It is what it is.
To me, even though I completely accept Sanjay Subrahmanyan’s position, as expressed in his [@sanjaysub] tweet, and although I lament the one-sided nature of the “India bowling is weak” theory, I do feel that there is something to be said for “team composition”.
I think it is suicidal for Team India to go in with Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla as the only “main bowlers” as we get into the sharp end of the tournament. Given that the batsmen are performing well, I think the team has to either sacrifice Yusuf Pathan or get him to open the bowling! If he does not do that, I see no reason why India should not play three spinners — R. Ashwin, Piyush Chawla and Harbhajan Singh — with Yusuf Pathan missing out and with R. Ashwin opening the bowling!
With the “2 pace bowler, 2 spinner and 2 part-timer” formula that is currently under operation, Dhoni has no choice but to have a “bowling change by formula/template” form of decision making. He bowls Munaf Patel and Zaheer Khan for the first 10 overs. He then has Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla bowl the next 10 overs. He then has the part-timers bowling in tandem for the next 10 overs. And from there, it is a look up to the heavens to see what happens! If decisions are made only by a template, we may as well have a template as captain!
Dhoni has no choice but to go for a template-solution given his resources. If we are to free his hand up a bit, I feel India has to bite the bullet and throw in another bowler into the mix. I feel that that bowler has to be R. Ashwin and he has to open the bowling.