CHENNAI: Former medium-pacer Venkatesh Prasad believes all-rounders are the key for India’s World Cup retention bid. Though India have two all-rounders in Ravindra Jadeja and Stuart Binny, Prasad is apprehensive of their utility and advocates Ravichandran Ashwin and Bhuvneshwar Kumar to pursue their batting more seriously.
“Jadeja is just back after injury. I am not sure why they carried him for Tests when he was not fully fit. He should play the tri-series if he is fit and try to strike form and get aware of the conditions,’’ said Prasad.
Binny, he rates, is a bits-and-pieces player. “He may have a 6 for 4 against Bangladesh, but to me he is fit for T20s and not Tests or ODIs. I do not think he has the ability to win matches with the ball. He is a bits-and-pieces player,’’ he said.
The former bowling coach of Team India believes Ashwin and Bhuvneshwar have the potential to evolve as all-rounders. “Someone from the team management must talk to them and help them optimise their potential. I know Ashwin since his U-17 days, when he was an opening batsman. He has a couple of Test hundreds and all the credentials to be a genuine all-rounder. He must make up his mind, ‘’ he opined.
He was surprised at the exclusion of Murali Vijay and Robin Uthappa. “I do not understand why Vijay, who is in such hot form in the Tests and has the ability to do well in ODIs, was not picked. He was the pick of the Indian batsmen after (Virat) Kohli. He could have sustained his form in the World Cup too. He is also an excellent fielder. He should have been picked instead of (Ambati) Rayudu. I would have been happier had they taken Uthappa, who is in good form and could double up as the reserve wicketkeeper,’’ he said.
Poor team selection, he remarks, was the reason India lost the Test series Down Under. “We lost the series due to poor selection, carrying injured player and inconsistent bowling. In the first Test, I wondered why Ashwin was not picked. He is our No 1 spinner. On that surface I would have played two spinners. So one needs to get the combo right,’’ he said, insisting that the tri-series must be used to draw the best combination right the World Cup.
Prasad reckons the medium pacers should have done better in the series. “Mohammed Shami is the No 1 bowler, but he was not impressive in Tests. You cannot concede five or more runs an over and expect the team to be in the match. It was the right time for Ishant (Sharma) to be the spearhead, but he did not capitalise the opportunity. Bhuvneshwar must use the tri-series to regain his rhythm,’’ he said.
Though not an admirer of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s captaincy in Tests, he feels Dhoni has left a void. “I’m not that impressed by Dhoni’s captaincy in Tests. But his retirement has left a huge void, for it is difficult to find a quality wicketkeeper-batsman who lends balance to the side. In the shorter formats he leads by example. If he gets the combination right, India have a good chance to progress in the WC,’’ he observed.