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'Indian cricket healthy, but seam bowling a concern'

Last updated on: April 6, 2011 09:01 IST

Team India in best phase


Bikash Mohapatra

If outgoing coach Gary Kirsten is to be believed, batting and fielding aren't Team India's areas of concern. It is seam bowling!

They just won the World Cup. They are the No 1 Test team in the world. And they are ranked No 2 in the ODI rankings.

Team India is arguably going through its best phase. The performance of the Men in Blue in the last two years or so is an indicator to the fact that MS Dhoni's men have it in them to be the world's best for a longer period and dominate world cricket the way the West Indies did in the 1970s and 1980s, and the Australians not so long back.

The question that arises therefore : Can Team India dominate for a longer period?

Is this a team with maximum strengths and minimum flaws?

Is this Indian team capable of producing the consistency that the teams of yore lacked?

If outgoing coach Gary Kirsten is to be believed there's still some time.

"We have won the World Cup and are ranked No 1 in Tests and that is as good as it gets," explained the South African.

"However, there is still scope for improvement," he added, before proceeding to elaborate.

"Indian cricket is in a very healthy position at the moment," admitted Kirsten, adding, "Every individual has taken it up to himself to get better with each match.

"And it is very healthy to have competition for places within the team."

Image: Coach Gary Kirsten
Photographs: Sahil Salvi

Lack in bowling depth

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The South African went on to elaborate that batting and fielding aren't areas of concern.

"There is some really good talent out there. There are really some good young batters coming through.

"And the way we fielded in the knock-out stages, I must say, I was very impressed, especially considering ground fielding is the area where we put in the most effort during practice."

So where does this team lack?

If Kirsten is to be believed the fault lies with the bowling.

"The seam bowling department is a slight concern," he said, referring to the aspect which has for long hampered the team's progress.

"And it always has been the case with Indian cricket," he added, before elaborating his point.

Image: India's bowling coach Eric Simmons and Ishant Sharma

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'Important to find quality seamers'

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"I think it is important to find one or two quality seamers who can stay in the team for a decent period of time. If these players can get themselves fit and strong and can handle the rigours of international cricket, then that will do the trick.

"There are a few bowlers who are knocking the doors but none that have come through flat out, except, probably, Ishant Sharma.

"Munaf (Patel) has done well recently and so has Ashish Nehra. But Zaheer Khan is going to need support, especially because there is heavy workload on the team this year."

Image: Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel and Praveen Kumar

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'IPL is helping the players a lot'

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Kirsten had hit the nail accurately. The physical fitness of the Indian seam bowlers has been an issue for a long time and many, including Zaheer, have had to suffer owing to this.

 However, the South African expressed confidence that the problem will be addressed soon. He went on to add that domestic tournaments, like the Indian Premier League, would go a long way to help get a solution.

"IPL is helping the players a lot. It is exposing young players to high pressure moments, big games.

"I think it is good for Indian cricket that such a tournament exists.

"And as I mentioned earlier, Indian cricket is healthy and will continue to be so for a long time," he explained.

Kirsten did his bit to take Team India en route to dominance. It is now up to his successor, the selectors and players themselves to ensure the work is carried forward.

Image: IPL trophy on display

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