New Zealand vs India: MS Dhoni must be flexible in team selection, says Sunil Gavaskar

Updated: 22 January 2014 22:39 IST

Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar says Mahendra Singh Dhoni should try out the bench strength in order to find out the right team combination.

MS DhoniTeam India lost its No. 1 ranking in ODI cricket after a year as Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Co. suffered a second successive loss against New Zealand at Hamilton on Wednesday. Seeing India's dwindling record overseas of late, cricket expert Sunil Gavaskar says that the team may not be playing the right combination.

Former India skipper Gavaskar says he feels that India must get their playing combination right as the current XI comprising of five specialist batsmen and five bowlers is not working. "India need to look at their playing combination if they have to stay in the series. They've already lost their No. 1 ranking after today's defeat. India need to strengthen their batting by playing an extra batsman. Playing five batsmen and five bowlers is not working at the moment," Gavaskar told NDTV, from Hamilton on Wednesday. (Match in pics)

Apart from Ravindra Jadeja, who can bat and the likes of part-time bowlers like Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina, there are very few alternatives that Dhoni can fall back on in order to price out a few quiet overs and the odd wicket. Gavaskar says that the side needs batsmen who can chip in a little more with the ball, thus reiterating the inclusion of Stuart Binny in the line-up.

"Unfortunately, unlike the time when India won the World Cup, when a lot of the batsmen could turn their arms over usefully, like Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, this side does not have useful part-time bowlers who can pick wickets and keep the runs down as well. So India must play someone like a Stuart Binny, who can bat at No.6 and bowl as well," the legendary batsman told in an exclusive chat. (Also read: Dhoni wants openers to take more responsibility)

When asked if the Indian skipper is reluctant to change the combination and try out new players, Gavaskar said that the team management, including coach and selection committee must advice the skipper in such times. "Every captain has a sense of belief about certain players. You need someone strong enough in the management to tell him to make those changes and be more open and flexible in matters of selection. For example there was always a talk that left-arm spinners never flourished under Sourav Ganguly's leadership because he himself would smash them around the park. So a captain may be reluctant regarding a particular player but that is where the selection committee and team management must come into the picture and advice the skipper. In this case the coach and selection committee can argue and convince Dhoni about playing a certain player and trying new alternatives," he said. (Related: McCullum happy to clinch key moments)

The 64-year-old also urged that the benched players must be given a chance to showcase their skills now, keeping in mind the 2015 World Cup. "You have got few players in the squad who haven't got an opportunity to play yet and if you will not give them chances to play now, it will be very difficult for them to answer the call in a crucial match in a World Cup. Someone like Amit Mishra is a tourist. How will you find out if he's good enough to play by not giving him a chance. He may go for the same number of runs that the non-performing spinners are going for, but can still pick up wickets," he added. (Kohli's credentials as run-chase specialist on the rise)

Gavaskar also criticized Ishant Sharma's bowling, who continues to disappoint with expensive bowling. "It was evident today that relatively newer fast bowlers like Mohd Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have worked hard and practiced to bowl yorkers and were getting it right. Whereas someone like an Ishant Sharma, who has been playing for five or six years, fails to bowl a single yorker. Either he is unwilling to learn. If that is the case, you should look at someone else who can keep the runs down. With Ishant giving away too many runs, India are bound to fall behind in the game," he said.

Topics : Cricket
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