Yusuf Pathan…..Has failed in their role as India’s fifth bowling option © Getty Images
Yusuf Pathan…..Has failed in their role as India’s fifth bowling option © Getty Images

 

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

 

Every Shakespearean hero had a tragic flaw, which was the reason for his undoing.

 

India may be the 2011 World Cup champions, but the absence of a quality all-rounder is galling. The team desperately needs multi-faceted player who can play the role of an effective fifth bowler and bat productively as well at the vital No 7 position. The all-rounder is a vital lifeline for any team in the modern game. The absence of such a player can cause severe imbalance to the team and give copious headache to the captain leading such a side.

 

The 1983 Indian team that won the World Cup had a generous sprinkling of all-rounders and leading this pack of multi-utility players was the fabulous Kapil Dev – incisive bowler, dangerous batsman and athletic fielder. During India’s successful 2011 World Cup campaign, Yuvraj Singh stood up and made himself count as the all-rounder India so badly needed. In fact, his consistency as a fifth bowler played a huge rule in India winning the World Cup. What it also meant was the team had the luxury to field an extra batsman and bolster what was even otherwise a strong batting line-up.

 

Yuvraj, however, is in the team mainly for his batting and his bowling success should be seen as nothing more than a surprise bonus. Expecting him to sustain his bowling form would not be pragmatic.

 

India may have won the One-Day International (ODI) series in the Caribbean Islands, but their performance in the third and fourth ODIs highlighted the need for a genuine all-rounder. In both games, India had West Indies in trouble. However, they let the home team get to decent scores on both occasions when they could have bundled them out for a sub 200 total. This mainly happened as the part-timers were not very effective in the middle overs.

 

Here are the figures of the part timers in the third ODI:

 

Player

Overs

Maidens

Runs

Wickets

Economy Rate

Yusuf Pathan

5

0

27

0

5.40

Virat Kohli

1

0

7

0

7.00

Suresh Raina

4

0

31

0

7.75

 

Here are their figures in the fourth ODI:

 

Player

Overs

Maidens

Runs

Wickets

Economy Rate

Yusuf Pathan

6

0

24

0

4.00

Manoj Tiwary

4

0

26

0

6.50

 

These figures indicate that the part-timers have not been able to apply the brakes on the scoring nor pick up wickets. This is where India let go the advantage which allowed the West Indies back into the game.

 

In the third ODI, West Indies were 96 for seven in the 30th over after Munaf Patel, Amit Mishra and Harbhajan Singh struck at regular intervals. As India turned to the part-timers, Carlton Baugh and Andre Russell settled in and took West Indies well past 200. In the fourth ODI, West Indies were 103 for five but ended up at 249.

 

This just shows that the lack of the fifth bowler is putting too much pressure on the four main bowlers as they need the required support to pick up wickets. At the end of the day they can bowl only the 40 overs. The other 10 have to be bowled effectively and cannot be taken lightly as the batsmen can use them to get their eye in and also score some valuable runs.

 

It is said that success is a dangerous thing as it can tend to eclipse ones weaknesses. Even though India have won the World Cup and the bench strength has won a series in the West Indies, they have to be on guard. It was good to see Yuvraj fill in the role of the fifth bowler during the World Cup, but one must remember that it was just a short term solution to a long term problem. India dreams of dominating the cricket world, thus they need to have a team that is complete and it will only be complete once the genuine all-rounder comes in.

 

NB: This article was written before the fifth ODI. The sorry state of the fifth bowling options continued in the fifth ODI as well in which Yusuf Pathan, Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli together conceded a total of 55 runs.

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya, a 20-year-old law student, is a club and college-level cricketer. His teachers always complain, “He knows the stats and facts of cricket more than the subjects we teach him.”)