MS Dhoni after another ODI loss, which meant a series defeat to New Zealand and the loss of their No. 1 ranking, the captain suggested that India’s pace bowling combination for the World Cup was far from settled.
“When it comes to the bowling, we are still in the same phase, looking at who our permanent bowlers are,” Dhoni said.
“We know the spinners and they look good until the World Cup provided there are no injuries. Fast bowling, we are still not sure who our choices are,” he said.
Through the series, the new ball bowlers have struggled to take wickets or contain the batsmen, a condition that has existed since the series of South Africa.
While the current crop — Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami Ahmed and Bhuvneshwar Kumar — has been around for at least a year, the likes of Varun Aaron hasn’t made a claim yet, in the few opportunities he has got.
The more sobering fact is that there aren’t too many bowlers coming back from injuries or knocking on the doors with hugely impressive Ranji seasons. The likes of R Vinay Kumar, Abhimanyu Mithun and Ashok Dinda have all been tried and dropped.
Ishwar Pandey is with the squad and is likely to play the final match. RP Singh, Praveen Kumar and Irfan Pathan have form or fitness issues and have been struggling for a while. Ashish Nehra and Munaf Patel are well past their prime.
Rishi Dhawan, Anureet Singh, Dinda, Pankaj Singh and Jasprit Bumrah are the top five pacers this season. Dhawan, Anureet and Bumrah are not finished products yet, while Pankaj, 29 in a few months’ time is unlikely to make a comeback.
In any case, with a little over 12 months to go for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, a radical overhaul of the bowling unit isn’t ideal. So India might have to stick with the current set and hope they are able to get their problems sorted in time for the Cup.
Shamik is a principal correspondent based in Kolkata.