Irfan should replace Jadeja as an all-rounder: Madan Lal

In the 1983 World Cup winning team, India didn’t have a great bowling or batting line-up. But they had some fine all-rounders like Kapil Dev, Mahinder Amarnath, Roger Binny, Madan Lal and Ravi Shastri, who helped India win the title by defeating the mighty West Indies. As Dhoni’s men prepare for the upcoming World Cup, even one all-rounder seems to be a mirage with Ravindra Jadeja failing to fit the bill.

Former India coach and one of the integral members of the 1983 World Cup winning team, Madan Lal now joins the chorus of bringing back all-rounder Irfan Pathan into the Indian ODI team in place of Ravindra Jadeja, who despite having got enough chances, has not been able to perform in the international arena, especially with the willow.

Hailed as a ‘Rock-Star’ early in his career by none other than Shane Warne, Jadeja failed to show the same magic as an all-rounder while playing for India as he had done under the spin wizard at Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League. Though he showed glimpses of his talent with the ball sometimes, with his tight line and length, his batting has been found wanting on most of the occasions, prompting Indian fans and cricket experts bewildered about his continuous selection in the team.

It’s true that India don’t have much of an option in terms of an all-rounder, Madan Lal suggested that Irfan Pathan should be the man to fill the slot in the Indian team. Talking exclusively to’s Biswajit Jha, Lal said: “Irfan is the man to replace Jadeja in the team.”

“Irfan is the right man to fill the all-rounder’s slot for India, considering World Cup is not far away. There is little doubt that Jadeja is a fine young cricketer. But the fact is that since he is not performing well, India should bring back Irfan in his place.”

“Irfan is a fine all-rounder. He can bowl wicket-to-wicket in the ODIs. But his biggest strength is his batting. He can be handy in the later-order.”

When asked about the areas India need to improve before the World Cup, the former coach said that fielding and bowling remain causes for concerns. “Though India need to improve in all departments, fielding and bowling have to be really good.”

It’s batting, not the bowling which has won India most of the matches in the shorter version of the game. “Bowling has never been our strength. But we need to fine-tune our batting and fielding, too,” said the former all-rounder, who had removed West Indian batting hero Vivian Richards, in the final of the ’83 World Cup, that led to the great West Indian batting collapse while chasing a paltry 184 to win the title for the third time in a row.

The Indian team was led by an inspirational leader Kapil Dev, who despite having shouldered the responsibilities of both bowling and the batting, apart from captaincy, hardly was ever down with injuries during his long and illustrious career. But today we witness a completely different picture when bowlers initially show a lot of promise, but after just one or two years of being picked in the national squad fade into the oblivion due to career-threatening injuries.

In the last few years, India have produced at least five world class pacers who either broke down with injuries or lost the fizz in their bowling after just a couple of seasons. Ishant Sharma, RP Singh, S Sreesanth and Munaf Patel are among the seamers, who showed spark but never kept it up after one season of international cricket. Madan Lal thinks that there must be some faults with the training system which fails to make bowlers ready for the grueling routine of international cricket.

Like always, it’s the younger generation which is always at the front-runner in making a top class team. The team of 2003 under Ganguly had some fantastic youngsters in Yuvraj Singh, Md Kaif and Harbhajan Singh. Even Dhoni’s T20 World Cup winning team consisted of mostly rookies.

The young players, who promised a lot early in their career, could not fulfill their potential despite having got enough opportunities. Take the case of Yuvraj Singh and Rohit Sharma, who continued to be the most talented players around but their attitude towards life and the game have raised many an eyebrows recently. Are the young generation motivated enough? Lal does not have any ready-made answer. “I don’t know about the attitude problem. The coach would know better. What I know is that they must perform.”

It’s high time that these players should perform and help India win their first ODI World Cup after almost three decades of lull.