Perth: Former Australian batsman Dean Jones believes India`s bowling and fielding could be brutally exposed in the ongoing ODI tri-series against Australia and Sri Lanka despite the presence of younger and more agile players in the fold.
"They need to get their bowling right. It would be sorted out here in Australia. The weakness is bowling and fielding," stated Jones who was one of the pioneering one-day batsmen of 80s and 90s with his fine running between the wickets and thrilling stroke-play.
India lost the first match of the triangular series by 65 runs at MCG on Sunday -- a game in which their bowling was brutally exposed.
"I still think bowling is their weakest part. Hope some of your boys get to speak to Billy (Craig McDermott, Australia`s bowling coach). A lot of Indian players get carried away by bounce. They don`t need to worry about it -- bowl fuller and present a straighter seam, that`s the way to go.”
"The line and length of bowlers is instantly sorted out in these grounds in Australia," he said.
Even though the presence of youngsters has lifted India`s fielding standards enormously, Jones still feels it could show up on bigger Australian grounds. The 50-year-old is aghast at how little time the Indians set aside for fielding sessions during their nets.
"Fifty percent of the time they are playing cricket. If you are practicing for two hours, you need to set aside one hour for fielding. Say Sachin Tendulkar, who averages 45 and let`s say faces 65 balls in the middle, he needs to bat for 45 minutes in the nets but also practice fielding for an hour.
"I have always thought they never get fun out of doing fielding drills. They need to practice fielding for at least one hour-but they don`t. For some reason, they love batting and love bowling and that`s not enough. They got to learn."
Jones, who made 6060 runs at 44.62 in his 164-match ODI career, also faults batsmen for their penchant for hitting boundaries.
"They score 60 per cent of their runs in boundaries. Boy, these grounds are big. You have to do the work. You need to brush up the running between the wickets. Some of the Indian batsmen haven`t batted long enough. So physical conditioning would be a question.
"But again, I don`t think your batting line-up is an issue. The bowling and fielding surely are. No matter how good you bat, (without proper fielding and bowling) you are not going to win."
Any weakness in game, Jones said, is harshly exposed in Australian conditions.
"Particularly on these grounds. If you have any weakness in your game, it would show up in these 50-50 games, whether it be fielding, fitness or mental application.”
"The batsmen, I stress, have to improve their running between the wickets. They wouldn`t get away with it, hitting fours and sixes. The grounds are slower and bigger here."
Jones said Indians need to sort out their opening slots where Virender Sehwag in particular appears to have run into a lean patch. His last three dismissals have been while flicking a catch to off-side.”
"When you get a bad run, you start to think funny things. I just want him to hit straighter, don`t worry about flicking to midwicket. Just hit down the ground, not worry about the legside.”
"He`s an unbelievable player. My favourite. He`s just got a bit of funk, as I call it. He`s cloudy in decision-making. He`s got into technique and all those sort of things.”
"He just needs to loosen up. Face throwdowns in the nets. Ask bowlers to bowl short and hit straight back out of the net -- down the net without hitting the net. And present the full face of the bat.”
"(Gautam) Gambhir is starting to hit the ball. There`s a worry about his defence though. Particularly waist high balls which he is prone to nicking," Jones said.
"Aussies really try to get waist high to him and not give him any width. He tends to nick them off. Now he is looking to hit the ball. The ODI can bring him back to normal."
Jones asserts Indians only have to look at how Australia go about their business to know the secret of success in these conditions.
"They bowl fuller and present the seam. Craig has been brilliant out there. Peter Siddle, he used to bowl wide and one metre too short. It was like (Curtly) Ambrose. Courtney (Walsh) used to bowl full up but once Ambrose started doing it, he did more than Courtney.”
"Bowlers hate being driven. But if you persist with fuller length and present the seam, than sooner than later, the batsmen would nick off.”
"You don`t give width particularly now when there are two new white balls and swinging. You have got to start more homework on opposition. When Sehwag came in, there`s short point, two gullies, fly slip and it`s like hang on, what`s happening here," he explained.
Jones said any team which wins two out of three powerplays usually ends up winning one-day matches.
"It`s common knowledge. You win 2 out of 3 powerplays and you win the game. Look at your own World Cup finals. India were 32 for 2 but had done better than Sri Lanka in the first powerplay. India need to do homework. They need to get more proactive," he said.
Jones faulted the BCCI for regularly missing out on the bigger picture.
"They need to be a little bit smart here. They played 140 of the 365 days last year-16 Tests, 45 one-dayers and 5 Twenty20s beside the IPL and the Champions league. It`s a lot of cricket. They need to start smart now and manage their players," Jones said.
The next World Cup is due in Australia in 2015 and Jones believed it`s the best possible opportunity for the Indians to work out a template for it in the present series.
"It would be a very good template for the 2015 World Cup. You guys being the world champions, you have got to learn throughout. But they haven`t done enough of it."
Jones cited the example of first Twenty20 international in Sydney last week when India chose to field first on winning the toss.
"It was the same pitch on which girls earlier in the day at 2 p.m played a match. You are then batting fourth on that pitch. There are two matches on one pitch. The pitch got tired. You hardly win batting last in these conditions."
Even though Australia is number one in ODI rankings, Jones said the only thing which matters to the hosts is the World Cup.
"Even though they are number one, in their eyes you are the best team in the world. They don`t take any of ranking. What have we got to show? Nothing. They have not included Siddle and he`s furious. Why are they not picking him? We don`t know whether Watson could bowl his 8-10 overs.
"I think they are trying to find combination. With three years away, they are just backing off and building a base. Next year, they could really put their head down and look for the best combination," he said.