India's World Cup build-up on shaky ground: Ian Chappell
An opening attack of Stuart Binny, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, which India utilised at the Gabba in Brisbane, is not going to have the opposition batsmen searching for sleeping pills, writes Ian Chappell
Sydney: India's World Cup defence is looking as shaky as Christchurch in the midst of an earthquake. The batting was rocked by England's Stephen Finn at the Gabba (on Tuesday) and he rarely exceeded 135 kph. In fact, Finn's lack of genuine pace - the asset that made him stand out as a young bowler - must be concerning the England hierarchy, as he continues to tinker with his action.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowls during the ODI against Australia in Melbourne on January 18. Pic/Getty Images
The failure to cope with Finn's bounce is worrying because if India is to have any chance of successfully defending the World Cup trophy, they will need the batsmen to score heavily. The bowling has been profligate throughout the Australian tour and there are no signs that this failing is about to be rectified.
An opening attack of Stuart Binny and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, which India utilised at the Gabba, is not going to have the opposition batsmen searching for sleeping pills. There might be an argument for fitting Binny into the ODI side as an all-rounder who can provide some runs and a few economical overs, but certainly not as a new ball bowler.
If India achieve nothing else in this tri-series - and the way they've started it's looking ever more doubtful - they need to sort out the make-up of their attack for the World Cup. With their major pool matches to be played in Australia, one of them at the bouncy WACA, adapting to prevailing conditions will be crucial for the bowlers. So far they've shown no signs of making the adjustment to Australian pitches in either Test or ODI matches.
The Indian bowling has lacked consistency of line and length and the odd good delivery is book-ended by a series of boundary beckoning balls. This regular diet of deliveries asking to be plundered means the opposing batsmen never feel threatened or under pressure to pick up the scoring rate. Add to that MS Dhoni's maddening habit of occasionally "tuning out" to captaincy duties and it's a disturbing combination.
Not ideal preparation
India has placed so much emphasis on their World Cup campaign from the start of the tour, it's to be wondered if they are using the tri-series as a rehearsal for the main show. If that is their mind-set, then they need to change it quickly because sloppy play and a series of defeats is not the way to enter a major tournament. If the idea was to lull the opposition into a false sense of security, it's probably been successful.
A good start to a resurgence would be to reinstate Virat Kohli at three where he previously spent some time in ODIs. With Rohit Sharma and Kohli at the top of the order, India has their firepower to the fore; an approach based on getting your retaliation in first. In addition, it puts the two best players of the short-pitched ball front and centre and if it's the intention of opponents to bounce the Indians out, then these two could short-circuit those plans very quickly.
As Shikhar Dhawan continues to struggle under Australian conditions perhaps the time is right to open the batting with Binny. He looks technically capable and this would give Dhoni another bowling option, which appears to be a priority.
Despite his batting woes, young Axar Patel looks okay with the ball. A spin combination of Patel and R Ashwin might help give India some much needed control in those crucial middle to late overs and also provide some wicket-taking impetus.
Australian conditions are well known to assist the quicker men but the emphasis should be on GOOD fast bowling, not just any old delivery flung down at pace in the general vicinity of the stumps.
There's no doubt that India needs to sort out it's bowling quickly if their defence of the World Cup is going to amount to a serious challenge. However, the bowlers could also gain some inspiration from a re-jigged and more dominant batting order.