Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar cautioned Team India to improve its bowling or be ready to give up their World Cup. Blaming India's pace battery for the series defeat against hosts New Zealand, Gavaskar told NDTV from Hamilton on Tuesday that overseas bowling remains a major concern.
India lost the fourth ODI in Hamilton on Tuesday by seven wickets and gave up on their chances of squaring the five-match series against hosts New Zealand. Gavaskar was skeptical of the tourists, especially the bowling efforts. "I think the bowling is a major concern. In these condition where the new ball bowlers should be bowling well we are not doing so. We have not been doing so in South Africa, we've not been doing it here," said Gavaskar.
"If we do not improve our bowling by next year when India comes to this part of the world to defend the (World Cup) title, it is going to be very, very, very difficult," Gavaskar added after New Zealand took an unassailable 3-0 lead after the third match in Auckland ended in a dramatic tie.
Indian seamers -- apart from Mohammad Shami to an extent -- have been guilty of bowling short and wide against New Zealand. Even skipper MS Dhoni expressed his displeasure at the pace options at his disposal. (Read: Our bowlers need to use their brains, says MS Dhoni)
Gavaskar agreed and said identifying the weaknesses needs to be done immediately. "The question needs to be asked - are they not practicing in the proper manner? Are they not getting the guidance that is required or what is going on? Because they keep continuing to make the same mistakes," he said.
The margin of defeat - seven wickets -- clearly exposed India's weak bowling. Gavaskar felt India's 278 was inadequate on a good batting deck. "It was an under par score simply because the top-order didn't get runs. If the top order had made some contribution, if there were partnerships at the top of the innings then it might have been a different thing," he said.
India played the match without regular opener Shikhar Dhawan and batting all-rounder Suresh Raina. Gavaskar though was not impressed by the team changes.
"The changes appear to have been made for the sake of making changes," he observed. "If you have gone on a tour with only two recognised opening batsmen, then to drop them and have somebody else open the batting was a little bit tough." Virat Kohli opened the innings for India in the match and scored just two runs despite being in great form at No. 3.
Team India has now lost seven ODI matches since the tour of South Africa last year. With a dead rubber left in the ODI series, Gavaskar said India will need to urgently correct their overseas record if the team wants to successfully defend the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year.