India needs to go into One-day internationals with a full fledged, specialist fifth bowler and can't always get away with bits and pieces players as it has been doing during the last nine months. These words of wisdom came from none other than India's legendary "little master" and International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee Gundappa R Vishwanath.
"The Indians have been doing well and we always had a good team. Consistency was only the concern and the players have shown a lot of it in the recent times. Though the Indians seem to be peaking at the right time for the World Cup, I think the fifth bowler option is still a cause for serious concern," Vishwanath told reporters on the sidelines after inaugurating the Jain International Residential School's turf wicket at the school premises on the outskirts of the city.
"The confidence in the team is very high and the team has been winning close matches that's fair enough. But, we can't always go into a match - especially in the World Cup - with just four bowlers and expect a Sehwag, Sachin or Saurav to fill in for the fifth bowler's slot. We need to go with five full bowlers and then have the option of a sixth or seventh bowler," Vishwanath opined.
Stating that India was definitely among the favourites for the World Cup, the little master known for his patented square cuts also said that Australia would be one of the strongest contenders to win the World Cup. "The Australians are excellent in all aspects of the game, be it batting, bowling or fielding. That gives them the extra edge though of late they shown that they can be vulnerable under pressure," he said.
"At this stage, we need Srinath. He bowled very well in West Indies and if he had been in the team for England, it would have really helped the team. He must have made up his mind to give that much back to the game and that should be motivation enough for him to return. He has to give all that he has for may be the next couple of years for the cause of the team in both versions of the game," Vishwanath explained, while stating that it would not be appropriate to compare the current Indian team with the one that won the World Cup in 1983.
"Yes, there could be a comparison if they win the cup. We can then say both the teams won the World Cup and that would about be the best comparison," he stated amidst laughter.
G R Vishwanath was also not happy with Dravid's dual role as wicket-keeper/batsman in the One-dayers. "I dont think it is right for Dravid to continue to don the gloves even though the team seems to be moving in that direction for the World Cup. He (Rahul) is essentially a specialist batsman and he should concentrate on his batting skills," he added.
He also complimented Saurav Ganguly for becoming aggressive in as much as he could now extract what he wanted from each and every player.
Stating that, at present, he would not be keen on taking up the job of Indian team coach as he was pre-occupied as a match referee in the ICC's elite panel, he said, "I'm enjoying my role as ICC match referee. In the present format of five elite match referees, I have to travel a lot and I get to see a lot of places. I always loved watching cricket and as a match referee, I have to watch each and every ball - especially in Test matches which I really enjoy."