With just average bowling and not so impressive fielding, the batsmen will have to shoulder the entire burden of steering India to the World Cup, which is the most open this time around, feels former spinner Bishen Singh Bedi.
Questioning the selection of players, Bedi said the selectors have included too many spinners in the squad, ignored right options in the fast bowling department and hardly given importance to fielding which is very significant in one-day cricket.
“One spinner is too many (in the conditions). I don’t think this kid Piyush Chawla will get to play. And look at the fast bowling...they are not outstanding bowlers. Ashish Nehra is not the bowler he was in 2003. Zaheer and Praveen are struggling. Bowling is definitely a weak link,” Bedi told reporters in an interview.
“I would have picked Sreesanth in place of Nehra since he is a very fit youngster. And India’s fielding is poorer. The batsmen will have to do a hell lot of job to make up for the average bowling and poor fielding,” he felt.
“Expectations have always been high after the 1983 win but this World Cup is open. Any side, India, South Africa, Australia or even England, can go on to win the trophy. Sri Lanka always are a contender. So, all the teams would be under a lot of pressure.”
Bedi refused to compare the current side with the 1983 World Cup winning team but said one of the major reasons for India’s success at that time was that almost all the players were brilliant fielders.
“Comparison won’t be fair. At that time India had nothing to lose but one thing I would like to say is that players such as Roger Binny, Kapil Dev, Mohinder Amarnath and Sandip Patil, they were all good fielders.”
“Fielding can win you matches but we have ignored this aspect this time around,” he felt.
Bedi also said the Indian team should do everything to win the coveted trophy for Sachin Tendulkar, who is perhaps playing in his last World Cup.
“Let’s hope that the players deliver for the sake of Tendulkar. For Tendulkar alone this Cup should come to India. This boy has done and achieved so much and he deserves to be known as a World cup winning player as well,” he said.
Bedi said the selectors have made a mistake by not picking good young batsmen like Manish Pandey.
“And the players that we have are all on radar of the opponents. They could have picked an unknown commodity (as a surprise package).”
“I would have gone for Manish Pandey. He is a fantastic One-day batsman and a swift fielder. ODI cricket is all about athleticism and most of the cricketers in the current team are not,” Bedi said.
Talking about explosive batsman Yusuf Pathan, who is in red-hot form, Bedi cautioned that the Baroda marauder should not be put under pressure.
“If you put him under a lot of pressure, he will not be able to deliver. You are not always sure about him. Like him, a lot of Indian players are playing their first World Cup and it is not easy,” he said.
Bedi said he was also surprised that there was no space for a reserve wicketkeeper.
“Parthiv Patel should have been there. When he was not ready for international cricket, he was thrust into it and now when he is ready, they are not playing him. I think he should have been there.”
Bedi said though it is tough but he is keen to see that the trophy lands in Indian hands.
“I hope that these guys prove me wrong. If they can do it nothing like it,” he signed off.
The World Cup starts February 19 and will be jointly hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.