'We have to review our bowling options'
Captain Rahul Dravid on Monday said the absence of Sachin Tendulkar has forced the Indian team to "review" its bowling strength in the lead up to the one-day series against England.
Dravid said Tendulkar, ruled out of the seven-match series with a shoulder injury, would be missed not only as a batsman but also as a bowler, and the team has to find a way to fill up the fifth bowler's quota.
"Yes, we will have to review the situation. Sachin did a great job for us in Pakistan. It is not only his batting but also his bowling that has been an important part of the team over the years," Dravid said on the eve of the first ODI against England at the Ferozeshah Kotla.
"Now we have Yuvraj (Singh), (Suresh) Raina and Virender Sehwag who can bowl a bit for us. We have to see whether we can get a bit more out of these bowlers."
Dravid said India was fortunate to have good depth in bowling but the future of the game would see multi-skilled cricketers play important role.
"We have develop multi-skilled, multi-talented players ... Nevertheless, having eight seamers gives us good option. Having the quality bowlers also helps us rotate the attack.
"We have seen in the past youngsters being pushed hard and breaking down. We have to avoid that without weakening the team."
The Indian captain did not have a clear cut response as to whether Virender Sehwag, who had a fitness concern, would play on Monday.
"Sehwag went through the practice drills, he did everything that was expected of him. He has looked pretty good so far. It is early stage of the series, as such we would not like to divulge our combination. But Sehwag should be fit to play," Dravid said.
The Indian team also had another injury worry with Munaf Patel walking out of the practice session midway.
Dravid, however, played down the incident.
"Munaf had a slight bruise in the heel. It is nothing serious or alarming. It was just as a precaution we asked him not to bowl. We are assessing the situation."
He expected the Kotla wicket to help the bowlers.
"It looks a different wicket from the one we last played here. Against Pakistan (in a one-dayer in April, 2005), the wicket was fresh.
"In the Test against Sri Lanka (in December, 2005), it favoured the batsmen. This time, however, there should be some help for the pace bowlers."
India have chased targets successfully in recent matches. But Dravid said he would not necessarily opt to field.
"We have to weigh everything. We are not going to decide to chase just because we have chased well."
The skipper said the series against England would be a part of the team's learning curve.
"We will be playing 14 one-dayers (including two against Pakistat at Abu Dhabi and five in the upcoming tour of the West Indies) now. It will be a good opportunity to see where the future lies for the team.
"2007 World Cup is the goal for us. There is going to be a few ups and downs. But we have a few youngsters who have done well for us recently and the next eight months will provide them the experience."
Dravid said it did not make a difference to him that he has been appointed captain till the World Cup.
"It does not matter whether I am captain in the short term or long term. The responsibility is the same.
"It does not change my thinking, whether it is for three weeks, or three months or three years," he added.