Mumbai: Former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga feels India might find it difficult to defend their World Cup title in 2015, scheduled in Australia and New Zealand, due to the team`s weak bowling resources.
"India look very strong in their batting, but I don`t know whether their bowling is good enough to win a World Cup," he said on the sidelines of the `Wills Realtors` event here last night. The 1996 World Cup winning captain said young Indian batsmen have proved themselves in the shorter formats but need to perform well in Test cricket in overseas conditions.
"When I saw Rohit Sharma a long time back, I was wondering why he is not playing in Test match. I feel he is one of the most talented cricketers I have seen. Even (Virat) Kohli is a talented cricketer. Batting wise, I am sure India is strong with the left-hand (batsman) Shikhar Dhawan. India is struggling with bowling.
"The important fact is that they need to go out and win games. The testing part will be playing South Africa, playing in England, playing in Australia and not in the sub-continent. It is important to win matches at home but you are tested when you go out," he said. The 49-year old also felt that the other sub-continent team Pakistan too would find it difficult with its frail batting line-up. "Pakistan?s bowling looks good but the batting is still not good enough to win (titles)," he said.
Former Sri Lanka pacer Chaminda Vaas felt that India has produced good fast bowlers but many are not getting the opportunity. "I have seen so many good fast bowlers when I was in MRF a long time ago but only couple of guys are coming from that. This country has produced so many good cricketers and there are so many good fast bowlers in this country but they don`t get a chance.
"But the guys who have been given a chance they have done extremely well. They have taken from both ends and done really well," he said. Sri Lanka selector and former captain Sanath Jayasuriya said the Indian batting order is formidable with the top six players in good form and are capable of chasing a huge target.
"As a batting unit, they are doing well. That is the key. Even if the openers are not playing well, the other six batsmen are in good form. That is the key. There is no problem chasing even 300 or 350, we have seen last few games, they are chasing quite comfortably," he said.
Jayasuriya, who made the transition from a middle-order batsman to an opener, said India`s decision to open with Rohit Sharma was the right thing.
"Rohit was in the team. Everyone knows that he is a talented cricketer but you all couldn`t get the maximum out of him. He went through a really bad period and went out of the team and finally they got him to open. I don`t know who got him to open but they did the right thing," he said.
Ranatunga, however, felt that with the advent of T20, India would not be able to produce great batsmen like it had done in the past. "The younger generation doesn`t watch proper cricket and learn. They can`t learn from some of the present batsmen. I can`t see the Gavaskars, Vengsarkars, Tendulkars, or Rahul Dravids or Laxmans coming out from this country anymore and that is the saddest part as far as I am concerned.
"We looked up to India when we were young. We looked up to Gavaskar, Vengsarkar, Gundappa Viswanath, when we were kids but it doesn`t happen anymore," he said. He further said the proposed World Test Championship would help to recreate interest in the longest form of the game. "You need something to bring up Test cricket. This Test championship will give lot of credibility to some of the countries and some of the players. I hope the wickets won`t be batsmen friendly," he said.
Not known to mince words, Ranatunga said he is not a fan of T20 and lamented about Sri Lanka Cricket (Board) cancelling a series against South Africa in the island nation. "South Africa was supposed to play in Sri Lanka and they (Sri Lanka Cricket Board) cancelled the tour to play domestic T20 tournament Sri Lanka Premier League. Ultimately, the sponsor didn`t come and they cancelled it and also the South Africa series got cancelled. South Africa was the number one side. Playing in Colombo is not that easy (for them).
"If we had won the series, we should have come up to number three or number four, now that we are at number 7. They don`t look at the future and the prospects that we can come up and play against the good sides rather than spending money on T20. We had lot of messed up issues in the last few years," he said.
He also hit out at Sri Lankan seniors Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara for not shouldering enough responsibility. "I am not sure whether the batting line up is the right batting line up. Last match, Mahela suddenly opens with Dilshan and Sangakkara bats at number three. So the top three guys now bat one to three and the entire pressure comes on the younger lot. It is very unfair.
"Let the senior guys take responsibility. When we were playing, we used to play 5, 6, 7 just to protect the juniors. It is now all about personal glory, that is one issue I see," he said.