On the horns of a dilemma

K.R. DEEPAK

The bowling department has been a major worry for Indian captain M. S. Dhoni (in pic). In a way, he has become a victim of his own device by playing only four bowlers in all formats and under all conditions.

The World T20 Championship in Sri Lanka is posing a problem or two to Indian skipper M. S. Dhoni. Gambhir and Sehwag have to find form quickly as the team has come to rely on them in all three formats of the game. Well, it could be a matter of time before one or both of them come good, but the bigger problem for Dhoni is the bowling department.

In a way, he has become a victim of his own device by playing only four bowlers in all formats and under all conditions. The pitches in Sri Lanka have been firm and have enabled fast bowlers to produce steep bounce, but India lacks genuine pace bowlers to make use of the conditions. Of course, one can expect to see pitches of different kind once the tournament progresses, with spinners likely to get responsive tracks. However, here again, will Dhoni ever think that six batsmen are enough to do the job for India?

Dhoni will need to think hard after Harbhajan Singh showed against England that he still has what it takes to succeed at the international level.

Pathan has picked up wickets besides being economical in recent times, and his batting can always be handy. Furthermore, he has got back the ability to swing the ball back into the right-handers. This makes him a real threat despite the lack of pace.

Zaheer Khan will be the lead bowler, but at the moment, he is looking a mere shadow of himself. Since he is one who gets better as he bowls more, he has to be persisted with, failing which Team India will struggle in Tests. Chawla has again proved that he relishes bowling when batsmen go after him, but the young man has a long way to go before he can be a regular in the side.

Dhoni will be pleased with Harbhajan’s performance no doubt, but he will have the unenviable task of dropping a batsman if he has to persist with the ‘Turbanator’. If Sharma had not fired, then the decision might have been easy for Dhoni, but the half-century from the blue-eyed boy of Indian cricket against England will call for some tough decisions from the Indian skipper.

I wonder if Dhoni will even toy with the idea of using Pathan at the top of the order, at the expense of Sehwag. He has not shied away from doing so in the past but dropping a potential match-winner (even when he is not in the best of nick) cannot be done without a long thought. Sehwag needs to realise that he has to employ the same methods he had adopted of late in the ODIs to succeed in T20 as well — that of targeting to play X number of deliveries rather than trying to cream the ball right from the word go.

Team India has enough depth in batting to offset the failures of the openers, but its success in the World T20 Championship will depend on the bowlers. The spinners have looked their part so far, but until Zaheer Khan gets back into the groove, Dhoni will not be able to sustain the pressure on the opponents.

India has made it to the Super Eight rather comfortably, but it will not be a walk in the park once that stage of the competition gets underway. The Super Eight stage will provide great excitement no doubt, but it is also a stage when teams have to start peaking. Team India has the uncanny knack of raising the bar when needed and hopefully it will do so and go on to regain the World Cup.