New Delhi: Erapalli Prasanna feels it would be tough for India to progress beyond the Cricket World Cup quarterfinals with the bowling line-up they possess, adding that the lack of a leg-spinner in the squad will make the going only tougher for the defending champions.
"It remains to be seen how many spinners feature in the playing XI. I wish there was a leg-spinner in the squad so there was a combination of a leg and off-spinner. But unfortunately that option is not there," the spin great told PTI.
"Anyway the biggest concern for the team is bowling. Unless and until they finalise the combination of pace and spin, it will be extremely difficult for the team to progress beyond the quarterfinals. The format is such they should at least reach the last eight," said Prasanna, a member of the famous spin quartet comprising Bishan Singh Bedi, S Venkataraghavan and B S Chandrasekhar.
Though India had included leggies Karn Sharma and Amit Mishra in the 30-World Cup probables, eventually off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin alongside left-arm tweakers Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja made the final-15.
Jadeja is also among the players whose fitness is under a cloud as India struggle to finalise their combination before the tournament opener against Pakistan at Adelaide on February 15.
The pitches tend to favour the faster bowlers more than spinners in Australia and New Zealand but the surface at Adelaide, Hamilton and Sydney offer assistance to the slower bowlers.
Prasanna, a master at foxing the batsmen with his guile and flight, fears the predictability in the attack could cost India dear.
"If you look at the way they (Patel, Ashwin, Jadeja) bowl, they all are bringing the ball in... To me, Patel and Jadeja are the left-arm leg break bowlers. It is unlikely they will turn the ball enough to leave the bat. It is not a natural leg spin option they have.
"A right-arm leg-spinner with the use of his wrist will always turn the ball away more than left-arm spinners. With the spinners we have, it is impossible to take the ball away like a leg-spinner.
"Only Jadeja, I don't know how fit he is, is capable of turning the ball away and that too if he bowls slower than what he has been of late," said the 74-year-old.
Patel mainly relies on bowling flatter through the air, be it for wickets or the containment job. Prasanna reckons that approach won't work for the tenacious 21-year-old.
"It is up to the team management what they want from him (Patel), whether it is focusing on taking wickets or containing runs.
"I don't think that approach (of bowling flat) will help. When the going is tough, it will be very hard for him to stop the runs. If you ball 10 overs and take no wickets, it won't be of much use to the team," concluded Prasanna.