Sydney: Describing India's defence of the World Cup title as shaky, former Australia captain Ian Chappell has advised them to keep star batsman Virat Kohli at number three to negate any opposition plans to bounce them out with short-pitched deliveries on lively pitches here.
"India's World Cup defence is looking as shaky as Christchurch in the midst of an earthquake. If India are 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 failing is about to be rectified," Chappell said.
Virat Kohli. Pic/ AFP
"A good start to a resurgence would be to reinstate Virat Kohli at No. 3, where he previously spent some time in ODIs. With Rohit Sharma and Kohli at the top of the order, India have their firepower to the fore - an approach based on getting your retaliation in first," Chappell said. "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," he added. Chappell said that India should replace struggling Shikhar Dhawan by Stuart Binny to open their innings with Rohit Sharma as this will also give them more bowling options.
"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," said Chappell in his column for 'ESPNcricinfo'.
The former Australian captain said that the Indian bowlers have not learnt anything from the Australian tour so far and also criticised the move to open bowling with Binny in their tri-series match against England in Brisbane. "The Indian bowling has lacked consistency of line and length, and the odd good delivery is bookended by a series of boundary-worthy 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' of his captaincy duties and it's a disturbing combination," Chappell said.
"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," he said.
"Despite his batting woes, young Akshar 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," he added.
Chappell said India will have to sort out their bowling woes quickly if they have any chance of defending the title they had won in 2011 at home. "If India achieve nothing else in this tri-series - and
the way they have 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 have shown no signs of making the adjustment to Australian pitches in either Tests or ODI matches," Chappell said.
"India have placed so much emphasis on their World Cup campaign from the start of their tour, it's to be wondered if they are using the tri-series as a rehearsal for the main show. If that is their mindset, 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 has probably been successful," he said.
"There's no doubt that India need to sort out their 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 rejigged and more dominant batting order."