Former captain Kapil Dev on Thursday said the Indian team management should desist from frequently chopping and changing the team and focus on building the players' confidence so as to get back to its winning ways.
"I don't know what the problem is but I am surprised that an all-rounder of the calibre of Irfan Pathan is not finding a place in the team," Kapil said. "The management's job is to give confidence to the players. How come someone like Pathan is not having confidence?"
Kapil, who held the Indian record for most wickets with 434 Test scalps for more than a decade before Anil Kumble surpassed him in 2004, said that with two all-rounders - Pathan and Mahendra Singh Dhoni - in the team, five bowlers could be played.
"When you have two all-rounders, you don't need seven batsmen. Five will do," the 47-year-old, who led India to its only World Cup win in 1983, said.
"What I can't see is how experienced players like Harbhajan Singh and Irfan Pathan are not playing. Something is going wrong. People who have done well for the team are not playing," he told reporters.
Asked what he made of coach Greg Chappell's comment that Pathan was low on confidence in the series, he said "I wouldn't say (make such a comment). I will keep a hand on his back and tell him that he can perform better than he has done.
"Such comments can break a player's confidence. Cricket is a game of confidence", he added. "When a player's confidence is high, he can be upto top class. But if you keep a sword on their neck, I don't know how any player in the world can perform," Kapil said.
He said the team was placing too much burden on Pathan by asking him to bat frequently up the order.
"I wouldn't say it is pressure, it is too much responsibility than what he could handle. "If you ask him to bat at number three in an odd match or two, it is ok. But if you ask him to do that every five out of 10 matches, then he becomes your number three batsman. Isn't that asking too much of him?"
Kapil said VVS Laxman too deserved to be treated well.
"You need experience. Giving an odd chance to a youngster and building the team is alright. If they (the experienced) can make a difference, then why not play them? In Kumble's case, why do you want to write him off totally (as a one-day player)? I think every player wearing the flanelled shirt is in the fray for the World Cup."
Asked whether it was a case of the Indian team performing below its par or the West Indies playing above itself in the current series, Kapil said "it is both ways."
The former captain said the disappointment of the fans with the Indian team's performance was because the media had built a hype in the lead up to the Caribbean series.
"The media had given me, and probably the players also, a picture that the team will walk over them. There were very high expectations and I don't think the team were to that expectations. The players have the ability but they have to be given confidence."
On the experimentations done by Chappell, Kapil said too much of it would lead to uncertainty.
"If he clicks, you like him. If he fails, you hate him. As a player I don't like many changes," Dev said. "If someone is an opening bowler, he is an opening bowler. If you suddenly ask him to bowl with the old ball, what will he do? Uncertainty in system affects productivity."
Kapil was cryptic to a question whether he thought Chappell was being very rigid with the players. "You must ask if the Board thinks he is being rigid."