How frustrated the Indian think-tank is with the injuries to the fast bowlers and their lack of form was highlighted when coach Gary Kirsten took pains to explain the predicament the team is in with World Cup just six months away. India are handicapped in the three-Test series with Zaheer Khan out with a shoulder injury but the lack of a fast bowling unit,capable of giving the team an edge even in ODIs,is also increasingly becoming a concern,said the coach after his bowlers took only two wickets on Day One.
Ishant low on confidence
Ishant Sharma has the responsibility of leading the attack in the Test series. After his poor show on the opening day,Kirsten admitted that Sharma was short on practice and low on confidence. He hasnt had much game time in the last three months… We need to be patient with guys who we know have the potential and talent to go forward. Let us give him a bit of run and see how he goes. We want to back him as much as we can. He has lost a bit of a confidence towards the end of the last season and that takes some time to come back, Kirsten added.
However,the coachs patience with regard to Sharma essentially stems from the fact that the teams fast bowling resources are fast drying up,with those who were once part of the core group withering away and others not showing enough application to make a mark at the international level.
Kirsten said that the fast bowling concerns were not restricted only to Tests. We need to find guys who are ready to step up. In the last two years and seven months that I have been with the team,we have tried 15 or 16 seamers in one-day cricket. Thats a lot of options. It is a concern that the guys are not saying,I am here now and now I am going to play international cricket for next five years. A lot of them might argue that they havent been given enough opportunities but when you are trying to achieve results all the time,sometimes you get only limited opportunities and you need to ensure that you show what you are capable of in that time.
The coach said the team management was using the next 11-odd Tests ahead of the World Cup to provide bowlers with a platform to prove themselves. Asked if the selectors had erred in not sending the out-of-form bowlers such as Sreesanth and Ishant for the India A tour,Kirsten said: I would like the guys to have as much game time as possible. If they get an opportunity to play quality cricket they must play.
Irfan not good enough
Kirsten said that the team would find the right balance if they had the right kind of all-rounder. When asked why Irfan Pathan or Abhishek Nayar didnt fit the bill,the coach said: We cant have a guy bowling at 115 kph and holding up one end and getting one wicket every five Tests. Hes got to be able to make a proper contribution. Irfan was certainly one individual that we earmarked but he is a little bit light on his bowling side.