The words toothless, inept and inconsistent can be used interchangeably for the Indian bowlers who have been selected as part of the World Cup squad.
Over the years the Indian attack could be accused of being unbalanced but not incompetent, but the latter is a far more accurate description of the current crop.
These players are lacking in not only experience but also seem to lack in application, as was adequately demonstrated in the recent Test series against Australia. The bowlers did not manage to take 20 wickets in a game even once.
Poor spin options
Traditionally India has always relied on spin to do most of its wicket taking abroad, though this did change in the 2000s. Even in the World Cup win in 2011, the contributions of Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel cannot be forgotten.
But in the past India always had quality spin bowlers who were match winners in their own right. Neither Ashwin nor Jadeja can be categorised as wicket taking bowlers in foreign conditions, though both can do a decent job of holding up an end.
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But modern day limited overs cricket requires a spinner to be an attacking one, and simply drying up runs does not yield much unless there is a bowler who can provide breakthroughs from the other end.
In the seam bowling department MS Dhoni has options which no captain would be envious of. Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar aren’t the most consistent or disciplined bowlers.
A look at their economy rates over the last one year would stand testimony to the fact. Both Shami and Yadav, who are supposedly India’s strike bowlers, leak over six runs per over on average.
Kumar while steady and consistent doesn’t threaten the opposition unless the conditions aid swing bowling as it did in England. The new ball pair will be chosen out of one of the these three, but death bowling is an even greater concern for India.
Death bowling worries
On more than five occasions in 2014 India away 100 runs or more in the last ten overs, this making the difference between India winning or losing the game, and Sharma has been the most culpable of the bowling unit.
He is probably the best bowler India possesses at the moment but he is another who is neither an attacking option nor a defensive one. The 26-year-old has often been touted as the leader of the bowling attack but, despite being around for a long time, he cannot lay fair claim to that title as he has never delivered match winning performances in one day internationals.
The all rounders in Axar Patel and Stuart Binny are not very different from the main bowlers in that they are not wicket taking and can be quite erratic. Patel may also fail to be picked given his similarity to Jadeja.
In this World Cup India also does not have the presence of Zaheer Khan who was the guiding force for many of these bowlers over the years. His experience is vital even if not seen in a playing role. It would not be a bad idea for India to hire him as a consultant for the duration of the tournament.
One look at the role that Allan Donald has played in the development of Dale Steyn should convince the Indian board to hire a man like Khan who is easily the most successful fast bowler Indian have had after Kapil Dev.
The Indian bowling performances will be key if they are to retain their status as world champions and, at the moment, it looks far from likely that this will happen.
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