Shanthakumaran Sreesanth made a horror start to the World Cup with a below-par bowling performance against Bangladesh at Mirpur © Getty Images


By Suhrid Barua


Team India’s World Cup campaign may have got off to a near-perfect start with their emphatic win over Bangladesh in Mirpur, but the match panned out to be a forgettable one for seamer Shanthakumaran Sreesanth.


Sreesanth was subjected to some pasting by the Bangladesh openers, especially left-handed Imrun Kayes, who clobbered him four boundaries en route to picking 24 from his third over after the Kerala fast bowler was asked to shoulder the responsibility of opening the bowling operations with Zaheer Khan.


Sreesanth conceded 53 runs from his five overs, and was expectedly not brought back into the attack by captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Sreesanth’s performance spelt a sorry sight in an otherwise impressive Indian performance. “I didn’t see the match as I was away with some pressing commitments, but Sree bowled badly. Maybe he was trying hard to get wickets,” Sreesanth’s former coach and mentor P Sivakumar told CricketCountry.


Sivakumar felt that Sreesanth’s mental preparation may have not been up to the desired level. “Sree wasn’t supposed to be part of the starting eleven for the Bangladesh match, if media reports were anything to go by. Remember also that it was his first World Cup appearance and maybe he was not mentally prepared as he should have.


“He was also not in the original 15-member World Cup squad. Sree came into the side only after Praveen Kumar was ruled out of the mega event because of an elbow injury and his inclusion happened less than two weeks before the World Cup,” Sivakumar says in defense of his protégé.


But Sivakumar did text message to his pupil after the poor bowling show in Mirpur. “I didn’t want Sree’s confidence to be dented in anyway. I just send him a message saying ‘Don’t Worry, Sree. These things happen. Take care and sleep well’ after the end of the match.”


Sreesanth’s former coach feels the bowler can draw a lot of confidence from the manner in which he dismissed in-form Jacques Kallis with a brute of a delivery in Durban. “It was a peach of a ball. Kallis was in a rich vein of form and to get him out in that fashion was remarkable. He can draw inspiration from that dismissal for India’s upcoming games,” he observed.


Sivakumar, who honed Sreesanth’s bowling skills at the Ernakulam Cricket Club from the age of 13 to 20 before he got selected in the MRF Pace Foundation, says that his ward should stick to basics and results would take care of itself. “Sree should not try anything extra to make things happen. He should concentrate only on line and length,” he says.


Sivakumar, however, paints a realistic picture when he talks about Sreesanth’s role in the India’s upcoming games. “I feel that if India are going to play two seamers against England, I’m pretty sure Sree would have to sit out. Only if we play three seamers,  Sree would play,” he signed off.