Batsmen will have to cover for bowling and fielding: Bedi (Interview, World Cup Countdown)

By Avishek Roy, IANS
Friday, February 11, 2011

NEW DELHI - Bishan Singh Bedi, the former India captain and one of the selectors who picked the World Cup winning squad in 1983, says India will have to get “at least 50 more runs” in each match “to compensate for the lack of incisive bowling and sharp fielding”.

The outspoken veteran bowler of the famous spinning trio of the seventies agrees that though the Indians can “destroy” any attack, their bowling lacks penetration and the fielding is the “weakest link”.

“We have a reasonably experienced side. Batting is our strength. We don’t have a terribly penetrating bowling and fielding is our weakest link. There are quite a few guys who are not quick on their feet and it will be difficult to hide them. I think India will have to score at least 50 more runs to compensate for the lack of incisive bowling and sharp fielding,” Bedi told IANS in an interview.

“The batting is outstanding. We have Sachin (Tendulkar), (Virender) Sehwag, (Gautam) Gambhir, Yusuf (Pathan), Yuvarj (Singh), (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni. They can destroy any attack any day. All they need is to be consistent.”

The legendary left-arm spinner says India have the best chance of winning the World Cup after 1983.

“I think we have the best chance to win the World Cup after 1983. Yes this is going to be the most open World Cup after 1975 and there are as many as five teams who can become champions.

“For India to succeed, they will have to up their level of commitment and focus. There is a strong belief that we can win the World Cup and now the players should start thinking that they ’shall’ win.”

Bedi, a member of the Indian team in the first two World Cups in England, has some simple advice for the Indian bowlers — never go in with the mindset of containing the batsmen, attack and go for wickets.

“India should not think of bowling a restrictive line to contain the batsmen, even if someone like Chris Gayle is going hammer and tongs. Even in the death overs, there is no point thinking of containing the batsmen. I know everything is in the favour of the batsmen, what with powerplays and field restrictions but I will still say that the bowlers will have to attack,” said Bedi, who has one of the most economical figures in the World Cup, 12-8-6-1 against East Africa in the inaugural World Cup.

The 64-year-old, known for his deadly armers, says spinners will play an important role on the sub-continental wickets and he would watch with interest the spin combination Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni goes in with.

“Spinners will have a wider role to play. Harbhajan Singh has not taken many wickets in the last few games. He is an explosive character though, but thats not enough to get you wickets. It will be interesting to see what spin combination Dhoni chooses, whether he will go for two off-spinners or a leg spinner. Though I have my reservations about playing a leg-spinner, picking Piyush Chawla in the squad was a good decision.

“The Indian team also needs to remain injury free. That’s important.”

Bedi also talked highly about new off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. “Ashwin is a tight bowler and he has proved his credentials.”

Asked to name any other spinner he thought would create an impact, he picked England’s Graeme Swann. “He is an outstanding bowler.”

South Africa, he felt have one of the best bowling attacks with the likes of Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn operating with the new ball.

Going down memory lane, Bedi recalled the selection of the 1983 team. Genial Ghulam Ahmed was the chairman and Chandu Sarwate, Pankaj Roy and Chandu Borde, besides him, were the selectors who carefully listed Kapil’s Devils.

“Ghulam Saab was a wonderful person and as chairman worked for a consensus on every name. We chose the best possible team taking into account the requirements of a limited-overs game. We found people who can bat, bowl and field and it so happened the formula worked and everything clicked.

“The boys did a wonderful job. Once they started winning there was hunger for more and more.”

About his own two World Cups, Bedi says they were just participants and were trying to fathom what the One-day cricket was all about.

“In 1975 and 1979 we just participated. It was only in 1983 that we competed and it made a lot of difference. Since then the level of competition has increased and the expectations of the nation have risen manifold. Now, besides physical and mental pressure of playing, you have a huge pressure of expectations.

“The 1983 team had nothing to lose, now it is different — they have a fight on their hands and they have everything to play for. Or, is it lose?”

(Avishek Roy can be contact at

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