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02 October 2023

How do you solve a problem like Sreesanth?

By Reuters

India's resounding World Cup win over Bangladesh could not hide the fact they have one major chink that could be cruelly exposed by stronger opponents -- the wayward bowling of hot-headed paceman Shanthakumaran Sreesanth.

Riding largely on a Virender Sehwag blitz, the 1983 champions avenged their defeat by Bangladesh that led to their early exit from the 2007 World Cup.

Bangladesh may not be the strongest bowling unit around but Sehwag and his colleagues proved the Indian batting order, especially on sub-continental tracks, is as good in reality as on paper.

The same, however, is not the case with their pace bowling.

Sreesanth clearly struggled against Bangladesh, bleeding 53 runs from his erratic five overs after which he was taken off.

Ashish Nehra, a death over specialist, is having fitness issues and even though Munaf Patel impressed as the change bowler claiming four wickets, India badly need someone to partner Zaheer Khan up front.

The failure of the seamers can seriously hurt the team because that renders their spinners' job doubly difficult.

The spinners come into play only after the pacemen have provided the breakthrough and therein lies India's worry.

Apart from his inconsistency, Sreesanth's penchant to get into trouble has earned him a public censure from his captain.

"I was very specific to him and told him that he should not cross... boundaries," Dhoni said before flying to Bangladesh.

"If you want to irritate someone, that should be the opposition and not your side," he said.

Their fielding has not been great either, something that may prove fatal in close matches against stronger sides like England, whom they meet on Feb 27 in Bangalore.

"In the fielding department, we will need to contribute some more. While fielding, we will want to save around 10 runs," Dhoni said in Dhaka, setting a target for his team mates.

Injuries to key players will also occupy Dhoni's mindspace, especially that of Sehwag who limped in Sunday's match and required a runner.

India have already lost Praveen Kumar through an elbow injury, while Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir are also coming off injury layoffs.

"We are fighting injuries, so it is good to have a long break before the next game," Dhoni said.