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India need to ensure fast bowlers are fit for WC duty: Brett Lee

Mumbai: Retired Australian pacer Brett Lee is of the opinion that one of the key factors for India to defend their title successfully in the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup will be to ensure their fast bowlers retain fitness.

The 38-year-old Lee, who was part of the triumphant 2003 Australia World Cup squad led by Ricky Ponting and also played in the 2011 edition won by India, singled out Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav as the men who should take the lead role in the Indian attack.

Lee was talking to reporters in Mumbai via a teleconference from Sydney after the launch of Disney India's official digital game for the Cup - ICC Pro Cricket 2015.

"I think what India needs to do is ensure that the fast bowlers are fully fit. Ishant Sharma, to me, could be a bowler that could play a huge role along with someone like Yadav, who was rested for the recent match in Perth. Now whether he was injured or whether he was pre-rested to be ready for this world cup campaign... the need of the hour for India is pace," said Lee.

"Out here, they need quick bowlers who can bowl good bouncers and have a good slower delivery in their armoury along with the skills to bowl during the death overs. What I mean by bowl at the death is to be able to deliver fast 145 km yorkers that can knockout a team at the death.

"This is because they are not playing on wickets like those in India that are dusty and the ball turns and swings.

Here, they would be playing on wickets that are conducive to fast bowling in Australia and so they need good, young fast bowlers," said the Lee, who took 380 wickets in ODIs.

Lee refused to predict which team would clinch the Cup on March 29, the date of the summit clash, saying that the complete team in the mega event would hold aloft the coveted trophy. The tournament starts on February 14.

"I've said it all along that the World Cup and the team that will win the trophy on March 29th will be the most complete team. So that doesn't mean on papers they are the best cricket nation, it doesn't even mean that that every player is a superstar in that team. What it means is that the team, which over the course of the seven weeks of World Cup, plays the best cricket on every particular match day is the champion.

"So, if you have a bad aim or an off day/week or through lack of form or injury woes, any team can take the World Cup away from you. I think Australia has a great chance of winning the World Cup just like India, South Africa and New Zealand," said the former cricketer. 

Asked about the team with the most balanced bowling attack, Lee mentioned Australia, England and South Africa.

"In terms of balance, if they're all firing on one particular day, Australia to me has got a very balanced and a strong bowling attack. Just to mention a few, they have got (Mitchell) Johnson, (Mitchell) Starc, (Pat) Cummins, (Josh) Hazlewood along with a lot of guys on the sidelines as well.

"I think England too has world class bowlers in Fink and Broad. Also, the South African team has Dale and Morkel along with others who can play the role."

About India, he said the key was to field the ideal XI.

"The Indian side too has got the depth ? they have a bus load of cricketers, but it is necessary to have the right combination of playing XI at the right time. New Zealand have got some good fast bowlers as well along with some good slower bowlers. Anyone on their particular day has got the chance to win."

Turning to the dimensions of the bat that the ICC has been thinking about to restore the balance in the game, Lee said he was more concerned about the boundaries being shortened in limited over games.

"I think that there are two points, the first point is that the ICC is being asked about the depth or the width of the cricket bat. Obviously down the front part of the bat there's a legal width which will never change.

"But the depth or the thickness of the cricket bat, they're asking should there be a limit on that. I think no, I think if you're good enough to be Chris Gayle, or be a big guy, or a David Warner with strong arms to carry a three-pound piece of wood and play effectively, I think that's great.

"What I don't agree with is that every single time that we see a one day game, they bring the boundaries in very close. Now I know that there needs to be a legal 3 meter length between the boundary rope and also the grass spots because you don't want to see a player injured crashing into the fence. But I reckon that they need to make sure that the ground should be as big as possible, as legal, if you know what I'm trying to say.

"So that's the only thing I don't agree with that they keep making the cricketing ground smaller when batsmen are getting stronger and hitting bigger sixes."

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