'India are the favourites purely because, temperamentally, on the big nights it is the best team in the tournament; maybe on skills it is slightly limited in the bowling department,' says former cricketer-turned-commentator Sanjay Manjrekar. Harish Kotian reports.
Former batsman Sanjay Manjrekar believes India’s main concern at the ICC World Cup, starting next month, is the bowling in the final overs of the innings.
"The Achilles heel for India will be their death bowling. I think India can lose an important match purely on the way they bowl in the slog overs, and for that the onus will be on the spinners in the middle overs to take wickets and lessen the pressure in the death overs. For me that is the weakness," said Manjrekar, at the Australia Business Week in India, in Mumbai, on Thursday.
- Click for complete World Cup schedule
Despite the bowling weakness, Manjrekar, who played in the 1992 and 1996 World Cups, believes India have the team to successfully defend their title.
"India are the favourites purely because, temperamentally, on the big nights it is the best team in the tournament; maybe on skills it is slightly limited in the bowling department,” the former cricketer-turned-commentator said.
Meanwhile, former Australia fast bowler Michael Kasprowicz offered some advice to the Indian pacers, who struggled in the just-concluded four-Test series in Australia.
"The length is the most important thing. When you got extra bounce, length is so important. We, Australian bowlers, always talk about the ball hitting the top of off-stump. It is the ideal length; in some grounds it will be a bit fuller and on some grounds it will be a bit shorter,” he said.
The 42-year-old feels this World Cup, which is being staged in Australia-New Zealand, will be dominated by batsmen, with totals in excess of 300 being the norm.
"With T20 cricket today the batsmen aren’t frightened about chasing anything. We have seen 300 and even 400 being chased down. Even in the last 10 overs, getting 100 runs off them is pretty run of the mill stuff these days. In Australian conditions you are generally talking 330, so scores of over 300 is sort of where it needs to be."
He further believes that India will take a lot of confidence from being the defending champions and their batsmen will be hoping to take some momentum after a good showing in the Tests against Australia.
"With the players in their squad, and coming off a fantastic Test series with some form, it is crucial. That momentum will carry through. I think being the current World champions there is confidence there anyway. T20 introduced that confidence and changed the way batsmen play today; they play free and nothing is impossible. So chasing down the big totals is a part of it,” said the lanky pacer.
The ICC World Cup 2015 kicks-off on February 14, with co-hosts New Zealand taking on Sri Lanka in Christchurch.
India begin their title defence against traditional rivals Pakistan in a high-voltage clash in Adelaide on February 15.