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'Forget opener worry, sort out bowling'

Erappalli Prasanna said the Indian team must sort out its bowling weaknesses instead of worrying about finding a stable opening pair.

india Updated: Sep 27, 2003 10:31 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Legendary off-spinner Erappalli Prasanna today said the Indian cricket team must sort out its bowling weaknesses instead of worrying about finding a stable opening pair.

"To me, it is the bowling that is the weakest link in our team. We should concentrate on strengthening our weakensses," Prasanna told PTI in an interview.

"When you have batsmen like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, it does not matter whether they open the innings or come at number eight," said Prasanna who is here as a visiting coach at a cricket camp conducted by his erstwhile teammate and former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi.

Prasanna said the outcome of the two-Test series against New Zealand would depend on how the two captains handled their slow bowlers.

"They (New Zealand) also have good spinners in Daniel Vettori and Paul Wiseman, but the decisive factor would be how the two captains handle their spinners."

Prasanna, who alongwith Bedi, S Venkataraghavan and

B S Chandrasekar formed the famous spin quartet of 1960-70s, felt the present day bowlers were defensive in their attitude.

"How attacking a bowler you are will be known after the first 15 overs and the second new ball is 65 overs due.

"We see more than 300 runs being scored in a day, it is not just because batting has improved but bowlers do not attack enough.

"You can't say Australia have a strong batting line-up. A team can be strong only as much as you allow them to be," Prasanna said.

Prasanna, who has taken 189 wickets from 49 Tests, cited England's Ashley Giles troubling Sachin Tendulkar in a Test match two years ago to underscore his point.

"Sachin is an intelligent batsman but how often has he been tested? If you are an attacking bowler, you can make life miserable even to the best of batsmen," he said.

With reference to Harbhajan Singh opting out of the two side matches against the Kiwis, Prasanna said the off-spinner was missing on valuable opportunities to study the visiting batsmen.

"Let me not be critical of present players. But cricket is not easy as knowing the opponents just from videotapes, you have to learn while you are playing.

"You might see one mistake on the video and commit a new one next time. And most often, what you do finally on the field would be totally different from what you had planned befre going in."

Prasanna said the wickets did not matter for a successful bowler. "We four spinner had been part of India's every major success -- the first series win, when we beat West Indies and England. We had a 70-30 per cent success record in away matches.

"Similarly, fast bowlers from other countries had excelled on Indian tracks.

"What is needed to succeed on Indian tracks is some one like Kapil Dev who can cut the ball," he said.

First Published: Sep 27, 2003 10:31 IST