The man who won India her only World Cup 28 years ago and the finest all-rounder India has produced has given voice to the worst fear of cricket fans across the country.
The legendary Kapil Dev has said India, regarded as hot favourites before the tournament kicked off, can kiss any hopes of even reaching the semifinals goodbye if their bowling attack continues the way it has been in the two games so far.
"For me, having scored 338 runs, we should have won the match. It still ended in a tie. For that reason the bowlers have to be criticised," he said, referring to the thriller played out in Bangalore on Sunday.
But he refused to dismiss the team’s chances. “The tournament has only started and the same bowlers have performed well in the past, hence we shouldn’t write them off so early.”
Sreesanth’s lack of focus was the talking point in the first game, leg spinner Piyush Chawla went for plenty against England. Barring Zaheer Khan, none of the bowlers really stood out in Bangalore. Off spinner Harbhajan Singh has managed just one wicket per game, and went for almost six runs per over against England.
Indian hopes now rest on left-arm paceman Ashish Nehra, who is recovering from back trouble and is yet to play a game. Some feel off spinner R Ashwin would do a better job as the second specialist spinner.
The criticism only backs the concerns already expressed by others. For all their depth in batting, India’s unsettled bowling has come in for sharp scrutiny after conceding far too many runs in the first two matches.
The Bangladesh batsmen, although chasing a big total in the opener, handled the Indian bowlers competently. England, on the other hand, chased down the huge total posted by India and the World Cup co-hosts were lucky to come away with a point following the tie.
Kapil Dev’s Devils owed their shock 1983 victory to the way they bowled and fielded. The billion-plus Indian fans are praying the 27-year wait will finally end on home turf this time.