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Srikkanth confident India can deliver

S. Dinakar

— FILE PHOTO

Krishnamachari Srikkanth.

Chennai: It has been a mixed campaign for India so far in the ICC World Cup. The side has veered between periods of darkness and sunshine. Consistency has been lacking.

The Chairman of the selection panel, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, is nevertheless confident India can deliver in the world's premier ODI competition.

He told The Hindu here on Monday, “This side has shown character and belief both in Tests and ODIs over the past two years, has come back strongly from difficult situations. Let's not forget that.”

A few issues

Although India is virtually through to the quarterfinals, there are a few issues that need to be resolved ahead of the bigger matches.

There are worries in both the pace and the spin bowling departments. “We have tried out different permutations in the league phase. Once we get the right combination in bowling, I am sure we would do much better in future matches. The attack then would look different,” Srikkanth opined.

He said it would be wrong to single out only Indian bowlers. “Take the match against England in Bangalore. Even James Anderson and Graeme Swann, two of the finest bowlers in present-day cricket, conceded plenty of runs on a flat track. With the advent of Twenty20 cricket, teams have raised the bar for destructive strokeplay in ODIs.”

Exploring options

He added, “It is not unusual for teams to explore various options in batting and bowling during the league phase. When we won the World Cup in 1983, we did try out different cricketers. And there were setbacks. Every team played each other twice in that World Cup. We lost badly to Australia on the first occasion but bounced back to beat the Aussies in the crunch league game at Chelmsford to qualify for the semifinals.”

Srikkanth said all strong teams, with the exception of Australia, have suffered a defeat in the ongoing World Cup. “Apart from India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, England and New Zealand have also lost. A setback in the league stage is not the end of the world.”

Too many strokes

The selection panel chief admitted India had disappointed in the batting Power Play against both England and South Africa.

“I think we should play our normal cricket during the batting Power Play. Runs can come through conventional strokes. I thought we went for too many strokes against South Africa. With due respect to Dale Steyn, the batsmen got themselves out.”

Indeed, the pacing of the innings has come under scrutiny. Srikkanth said, “The golden rule of ODI cricket, particularly for the team batting first, is to bat the whole 50 overs.

“We did not do that against England and South Africa. And we had such a great start against South Africa. As captain Dhoni rightly said, we should have done much better.”

The side has limitations in fielding and is short of swift movers manning the outfield.

Srikkanth said, “As long as we do not drop catches and are safe with our ground fielding, we should be fine.”

Maestro in great touch

The former India captain was delighted with maestro Sachin Tendulkar's performance.

“He has been in great touch with two centuries. His hundred against South Africa was among the greatest innings I have seen in one-day cricket. Against a strong bowling unit, he matched Sehwag stroke for stroke in explosive shot-making.

“What amazes me is his running between the wickets at 37. It should be an inspiration for all young cricketers in the world.”

Despite the stumbles, Srikkanth kept his faith in India's batting firepower. “Sehwag, Gambhir and Yuvraj have also done well with the willow. And Yuvraj is developing into a very useful ODI all-rounder. One-day cricket is a lot about multi-dimensional cricketers.”

Having been a prominent member of India's triumphant team of 1983, Srikkanth comprehended well the pressures of the knockout phase. “A team should not worry too much about who it is meeting in the quarterfinals. It should go with the aggressive mind-set of winning three games on-the-trot, irrespective of the opponent.”

Australia impressive

Talking about other sides, Srikkanth was impressed with Australia. “It looks a very good side, has the balance in batting and bowling.”

On the contentious UDRS, Srikkanth said, “If the UDRS is used, then it should have all the necessary tools. The complete technology should be available. Or, we should rely on the on-field umpires. I am not in favour of mixing technology with the human element.”

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