India need a bigger pool of fast bowlers: Erapalli Prasanna
The Indian bowling was a pleasant surprise in the recent cricket World Cup but a bigger pool of genuine fast bowlers and spinners needs to be created for the team to be a consistent force in the future, feels the legendary E Prasanna.
The bowling department copped serious criticism in the preceding Test and one-day series in Australia before it rose to the occasion to take 70 wickets in seven games in the World Cup.
"The preparation for the next World Cup should start now. India have a very good chance to take the team forward. I think chunk of the batting line up should last till the next edition in England," Prasanna told PTI.
"On the bowling front, Ashwin (Ravichandran) did well in Australia and he should be around for at least for the next four years. India need a genuine leg spinner to support him besides a bigger pool of genuine fast bowlers to choose from," he said.
Umesh Yadav, with 18 wickets, was the third highest wicket-taker in the tournament while Mohammed Shami (17 wickets), Mohit Sharma (13) and Ashwin (13) also contributed immensely to the team's cause.
Talking more about the road ahead for the Indian team, Prasanna said: "While we do need more fast bowlers, it is equally important to have a quality leg spinner and a medium pacer like Mohit Sharma, who used his variations to good effect in the tournament. A special mention here for Shami. I think he bowled his heart out."
The former off-spinner doesn't see Mahendra Singh Dhoni playing another 50-over World Cup and keeping that in mind, he wants to see Test captain Virat Kohli take more responsibility in team matters.
"Kohli has to ensure the Indian team revolves around him. He has to do the work, both in his leadership and his batting. He is a good player but at times he needs to curb his aggression," said Prasanna.
"For example, there was no need to go for a pull shot off Mitchell Johnson so early in his innings in the semifinal. India would have won, had he played a sheet anchor role," said Prasanna.
The 73-year-old said India need to play in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to improve as a Test side. "Playing in India and sub-continent is not helping us much."
Reflecting on India's performance in the World Cup, where not many gave them a chance to make the semis, Prasanna was pleased with the showing but felt that the team should have shown more faith in the reserve players.
"Barring Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Patel (Axar), Binny (Stuart Binny) and Rayudu (Ambati) did not get a game. When you pick the 15, my presumption is all of them are at par."
On the fateful semifinal, he said, "The overall performance was good but India lacked a game plan in the semifinal. Australia are such a heavy side and fielding first was a setback. Psychologically the team was on the backfoot. They got 300 plus and now how do you chase that.
"We did not know how to plan the innings. Chasing can be done only on partnership basis and that did not happen. India also lacked in intensity while Australia were fully charged up."