Melbourne: The biggest positive for the Indian cricket team in this World Cup has been the performance of its pacers and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni feels that the trio of Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Mohit Sharma should not be forced to play domestic events to ensure that they don't burn out.
Yadav (18 wickets), Shami (17 wickets) and Mohit (13 wickets) shared 48 out of the 72 wickets taken by the Indian bowlers (run-outs excluded) and have surprised one and all with their pace, bounce and control, hitting the right length on most of the occasions.
The only blip came in the semifinal clash against Australia which India lost by 95 runs yesterday in Sydney. An impressed India captain feels that this core group of bowlers should be nurtured by the BCCI with utmost care their respective state associations shouldn't pester them for playing in the Ranji Trophy.
When he was asked as to how one would nurture and protect the current bunch, Dhoni cited some practical reasons that can hinder their progress.
"This is a problem that we have had for quite some time now in our set up. Once a fast bowler completes international assignment and goes back, he is then asked by his local state associations to come and bowl in domestic cricket. However there are no checks and balances on the number of overs they are being asked to bowl," a worried Dhoni stated.
There are times when a Shami or an Umesh have been fervently requested and at times even ordered by their respective state associations, Bengal and Vidarbha to play in Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy or Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy.
Dhoni strongly opposed this ploy of state associations creating pressure on a bowler or batsman.
"If the fast bowler refuses to play domestic matches, then the local association gets annoyed and would grumble that 'now that you are playing for India means that you won't play for us'. So problems are there." The skipper urged the BCCI to closely monitor this bowling unit as they will be key to India's future overseas tours.
"If we want to look at the interests of Indian cricket, we have to monitor the progress of fast bowlers as to how many overs they are sending down and what's amount of workload they are taking. At the same time, our bowlers shouldn't play too many matches in Indian domestic cricket. They should play on and off," Dhoni said.
While he wants the pacers to play less amount of domestic matches, he elaborately explained why he wants this action plan to be implemented.
"These bowlers (Umesh, Shami, Mohit, Bhuvneshwar) are playing almost all formats of international cricket. They are playing ODIs, T20 Internationals and Tests where the required intensity level is very high," Dhoni said complimenting them.
"If one looks at other teams, you will find that they get at least two months of clear break but we don't even have two months of break throughout the year. I know it's a tough thing but if the respective state associations are ready to compromise a bit, then probably we can persist with same set of bowlers for a longer period time," he added.
Dhoni seemed unhappy that many of the bowlers, who start as genuine quicks turned into military medium trundlers in years gone by.
"As we have seen a lot of times, that a fast bowler comes to the scene and we groom him and from 145 kmph, the guy suddenly becomes a 132 kmph line and length bowler. You know that creates a problem whenever we play outside the sub-continent.
"Therefore we should have to a proper plan in place and all associations have to work towards it." While the fast bowlers have earned plaudits from their skipper, the latter didn't forget to mention that these youngsters remember what all they did correctly and learnt from this big tour of nearly four and half months.
"The biggest positive from the World Cup is the manner in which fast bowlers have bowled. It can't get bigger than this. The best thing will be if the fast bowlers can remember what all they have learnt from this tour as it will help us in future Test series as their role will be important in overseas conditions," the skipper said in his assessment.
He also praised the batting unit and observed that the current crop is ready to carry forward the mantle.
"In case of batsmen if you see throughout the Australian Summer, Tests or ODIs it was never the pace that bothered us. May be we have got out to short pitched deliveries but nobody really backed off. This batting order that you have seen will remain in the coming years. So whatever they have learnt, it will help them in the coming tours outside the sub-continent.