India's bowling not good enough to win 2015 World Cup, says Ranatunga
Former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga is of the view that India's bowling needs improvement, else it could find it difficult to defend the crown in the 2015 World Cup.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 'Wills Realtors' event in Mumbai, on Thursday night, the 1996 World Cup-winning captain said, "India look very strong in batting, but I don't know whether their bowling is good enough to win a World Cup.
He said India's young batsmen have proved themselves in the shorter formats, but need to perform well in Tests too, particularly overseas.
"When I saw Rohit Sharma a long time back, I was wondering why he is not playing in Test matches. I feel he is one of the most talented cricketers I have seen. Even (Virat)
Kohli is a talented cricketer. Batting-wise, I am sure India is strong with the left-hand (batsman) Shikhar Dhawan. India is struggling with bowling.
"The important fact is that they need to go out and win games. The testing part will be playing South Africa, playing in England, playing in Australia, and not in the sub-continent. It is important to win matches at home, but you are tested when you go out," he said.
As the World Cup will be played in Australia and New Zealand, and the 49-year old felt Pakistan too would find it difficult because of its frail batting.
"Pakistan’s bowling looks good, but the batting is still not good enough to win (the title)," he said.
Image: India celebrate after winning the 2011 World Cup
Photographs: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
'I don't know who got Rohit to open, but they did the right thing'
Former Sri Lanka pacer Chaminda Vaas felt India produces many good fast bowlers, but not many of them get the opportunity at the highest level.
"I have seen so many good fast bowlers when I was in MRF a long time ago, but only couple of guys are coming from that. This country has produced so many good cricketers and there are so many good fast bowlers in this country but they don't get a chance.
"But the guys who have been given a chance... they have done extremely well. They have taken from both ends and done really well," he said.
Sri Lanka selector and former captain Sanath Jayasuriya said India's batting is formidable, with the top six players in good form and capable of chasing a huge target.
"As a batting unit, they are doing well. That is the key. Even if the openers are not playing well, the other six batsmen are in good form. That is the key. There is no problem chasing even 300 or 350; we have seen last few games, they are chasing quite comfortably," he said.
Jayasuriya, who made the transition from a middle-order batsman to opener, said India made the correct decision to open with Rohit Sharma.
"Rohit was in the team. Everyone knows that he is a talented cricketer, but you all couldn't get the maximum out of him. He went through a really bad period and went out of the team and finally they got him to open. I don't know who got him to open, but they did the right thing," he said.
Ranatunga, however, felt that with the advent of T20, India will not be able to produce great batsmen like it has done in the past.
"The younger generation doesn't watch proper cricket and learn. They can't learn from some of the present batsmen. I can't see the Gavaskars, Vengsarkars, Tendulkars, or Rahul Dravids or Laxmans coming out from this country anymore and that is the saddest part, as far as I am concerned.
"We looked up to India when we were young. We looked up to Gavaskar, Vengsarkar, Gundappa Viswanath, when we were kids but it doesn't happen anymore," he said.
He further said the proposed World Test Championship would help recreate interest in the longest form of the game.
"You need something to bring up Test cricket. This Test championship will give lot of credibility to some of the countries and some of the players. I hope the wickets won't be batsmen friendly," he said.
Image: Rohit Sharma
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images
'It is now all about personal glory; that is one issue I see'
Not known to mince words, Ranatunga said he is not a fan of T20 cricket and lamented about the Sri Lanka Cricket Board cancelling a series against South Africa in the island nation.
"South Africa was supposed to play in Sri Lanka and they (Sri Lanka Cricket Board) cancelled the tour to play domestic T20 tournament, Sri Lanka Premier League. Ultimately, the sponsor didn't come and they cancelled it and also the South Africa series got cancelled. South Africa was the number one side. Playing in Colombo would not have been easy for them.
"If we had won the series, we would have come up to number three or number four; now we are at number 7. They don't look at the future and the prospects that we can come up and play against the good sides rather than spending money on T20. We had lot of messed up issues in the last few years," he said.
He also hit out at Sri Lankan seniors Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara for not shouldering enough responsibility.
"I am not sure whether the batting line-up is the right batting line-up. Last match, Mahela suddenly opens with Dilshan and Sangakkara bats at number three. So the top three guys now bat one to three and the entire pressure comes on the younger lot. It is very unfair. Let the senior guys take responsibility. When we were playing, we used to play 5, 6, 7 just to protect the juniors. It is now all about personal glory; that is one issue I see," he said.
Image: Mahela Jayawardene (left) with Kumar Sangakkara
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images