Bishan Singh Bedi has the stingiest figures in a World Cup match. His eight runs in 12 overs (0.66 runs per over) in the 1975 edition against East Africa might not get bettered in this age when a run-a-ball is becoming par for the course.
So when the former left-arm spinner talks about the national selectors' mistakes in selecting bowlers, especially spinners, for the World Cup, you do sit up and take notice.
Bedi feels Piyush Chawla is a wrong choice and thinks Ashish Nehra is too old to repeat his 2003 heroics.
“I think they (selectors) made some wrong choices. Chawla might leak runs and it is not just about him. Other leg-spinners like Steve Smith (Australia) can also fail,” Bedi says. “In limited overs cricket, you can do with your average bowler, but he should keep the run-rate in check. There are exceptions like Shane Warne but then they are exceptions because they are exceptional.”
He puts his money on Ravichandran Ashwin, the Tamil Nadu off-spinner to deliver the goods. “I think Ashwin is a better bowler than Harbhajan Singh for limited overs format. He might not be as accomplished, but he hits the right length and line and keeps things tight. But he may not get a chance to play as Bhajji is already there.
“I think the bowling line-up lacks youthful exuberance and vigour. Nehra is not the same as we saw in 2003. I think they should have had someone like Sreesanth in the side to pump up the energy levels.”
The former left-arm spinner, who has been in controversy in recent times for refusing to acknowledge feats of bowlers with suspect actions, says Graeme Swann, the England off-spinner, will be the pick of the tweakers in this edition.
“Swann is an outstanding bowler. He is the best off-spinner at the moment,” Bedi says.
“The fact that he attacks makes him extraordinary. He has a nice, clean action and I think he should do really well. His performance in the Ashes should boost his confidence.”
Daniel Vettori, the New Zealand left-arm orthodox spinner, is another one, who Bedi marks out for the World Cup. “He is not being noticed because his team hasn't done well enough in recent times. Since this World Cup would be his ODI swansong, keep an eye on him.”
Australia may not be having too much faith in off-spinner Nathan Hauritz but Bedi feels “they should prefer him over Steve Smith”. “Hauritz bowls a good off and middle line that is difficult to get away. The Bangladeshi spinners too will make an impact,” he signs off.