India’s batting line-up led by Virat Kohli can chase any total on a given day but bowlers need to “stand up and be counted” in order to retain the cricket World Cup, feels ace spinner Harbhajan Singh.
“India possess a fabulous batting line-up with Virat Kohli, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane forming the core but we would need the likes of Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami to perform like Zaheer Khan, in order to retain the World Cup,” Harbhajan, a key member of the victorious 2011 World Cup squad, said.
Harbhajan then did an elaborate analysis on what can be expected of Indian bowlers at the World Cup.
“I think we would be playing with four specialist bowlers and may be an all-rounder (Stuart Binny). With the field restrictions and two new balls, I believe we need at least three bowlers to perform on any given day out of four,” stated Harbhajan, who has the experience of playing three World Cup including two finals.
“It’s always not possible for all four to perform on a given day but at the most, we must have three of the four specialist bowlers performing in every match. At the most, we can have one bowler on a given day who might not click but you can’t afford to have two bowlers leaking runs from both side. Then it can create pressure on other bowlers also,” he further explained.
Harbhajan is of the opinion that India’s spin troika of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel will find it advantageous to bowl with white kookaburra on hard Australian pitches.
“There is a difference between a ball which is 45 overs old and one which is 25 overs old. In Australia, the white kookaburras used from either side will be barely 10-12 overs old when the spinners come into operation (in case they are not called in Powerplay overs). The seam would still be intact which would help the spinners grip it better and get more purchase out of the tracks,” said the veteran of 101 Tests, 229 ODIs and 25 T20 Internationals.
India’s performance in the tri-nation tournament may have come for flak but Harbhajan is not ready to read too much into that performance.
“I don’t think performance in tri-series will be parameter as India are strong contenders to get into semi-final along with Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Don’t forget we had injury issues and everybody wasn’t 100 percent fit. With the break, I believe everyone would come into the World Cup fresh and raring to go,” reminded Harbhajan.