Balvinder Singh Sandhu one of the Heroes of the 1983 World Cup
Balvinder Singh Sandhu one of the Heroes of the 1983 World Cup


By Suhrid Barua


There was always a lurking fear that the Indian bowling attack would stand exposed at the World Cup when pitted against a formidable batting line-up – precisely what happened in Sunday’s Group B match against England at Bangalore.


The lack of penetration in the Indian bowling attack was evident in ample measure. The Indian bowlers were taken to the cleaners by Strauss and Co. before Zaheer Khan produced something special to trigger India’s fight back where fortunes swung and eventually ended in a thrilling tie.


Balvinder Singh Sandhu, one of the heroes of the 1983 World Cup-winning Indian side and famed coach, talks about the Indian team with Suhrid Barua.


Excerpts from an interview:


Q: How do you assess India’s World Cup campaign, especially our bowling performance against England?


A: They bowled badly. If you are not able to defend a score of 338, then obviously your bowlers are not doing their job. Zaheer brought us back into the match with a superb spell at the death at a time when the match was firmly in England’s grasp.


Q: Where do you think India lost the chance to grab a win?


A: I thought Munaf Patel bowled a good 48th over but Piyush (Chawla) was taken for two sixes by Graeme Swann and Tim Bresnan in the 49th over and that killed off all our chances of winning the match. Even though Piyush got rid of Bresnan, the damage was already done.


Q: Do you think it was a right strategy to go in with two seamers and two spinners?


A: I don’t think so. We would have been better off playing three seamers and two spinners and not leg-spinner like Piyush who relies on his googlies all the time.


Q: Why do you feel India should have opted for an extra seamer instead of Piyush?


A: My point is Piyush is a leg-spinner, but on how many occasions you saw him turning his leg-spinners. It’s better to have a third pacer, who could bowl open the bowling and is good in the death.


Q: The general thinking is that the Indian attack is heavily reliant on Zaheer Khan. What’s your take?


A: There is no doubt that the Indian attack banks a lot on Zaheer. He is not just the pace spearhead but the bowling spearhead. He looks to be the only bowler who looks like getting wickets every time he comes on to ball.


Q: Are you disappointed with the overall performance of the Indian spinners?


A: Spinners have been below par. Getting wickets in the middle overs is the key, but our spinners couldn’t do that on Sunday. Spinners take wickets or tie down the batsmen, create pressure on them and induce them to play a false stroke. Our spinners failed on both fronts.


Q: How do you see India’s chances of winning the World Cup?


A: We got a good chance, provided our fielding improves and our bowling shows penetration and discipline. At the moment, the bowlers are unable to handle pressure. Big matches are won by bowlers, when the batting fails.


(Suhrid Barua is a cricket buff who invariably gets pumped up before every India match)