Mohammad Azharuddin, the former India captain, has said the Indian cricket team is directionless, adding that the issue of bowling needs to be addressed quickly if India are not to surrender a proud home record.
In December 2012, India lost a home Test series for the first time since 2004 when they were beaten 2-1 by England, for whom it was their first win on Indian soil since 1984-85. "The team has no direction," Azharuddin, under whom India swept all before them on designer tracks at home in the early '90s, was quoted as saying by Times of India. "Nobody knows what is happening. Something needs to be done."
Admitting that injury concerns hadn't helped the team, Azhar said, "Bowling has really been an area of concern. The wickets at home are not helping them much, so it's crucial for them to really work hard. The strike bowlers have made the matters worse by picking up regular injuries. Asking for turners won't solve the purpose. Despite having turning tracks against England, we went on to lose the Test series. Before opting for a particular wicket, the captain and coach must know whether they have suitable players."
With a batting line-up that included, among others, Sachin Tendulkar and Azhar himself, both outstanding players of spin, as well as a bowling attack that revolved around Anil Kumble who was supported by Venkatapathi Raju and Rajesh Chauhan, India were unbeatable at home in the '90s, carving out one triumph after another.
Azhar had a word of advice for Mahendra Singh Dhoni. "Dhoni should pick the right team," he said. "He should not go by the players' reputations. To win a match, it's crucial to back the best eleven. With Virat Kohli too struggling at the top, he must think of an alternative."
Azhar felt pitches in domestic cricket must have something in them for the bowlers so that the bowlers too were kept interested. "Though the BCCI has come up with some unique ideas, things haven't really changed much," he said. "The wickets still heavily favour the batsmen. It's time we give bowlers some options. If we can't provide a sporting wicket at the domestic level, how can we even judge our bowlers? This first-innings lead system in the Ranji Trophy is spoiling the whole challenge since everyone is playing safe these days."
Now a Member of Parliament from Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, Azharuddin had a life-ban imposed on him by the BCCI overturned by the court recently, and said he wanted to give something back to the game. "I'm happy to have come (out) clean," he said. "Now, I will be happy to do something for Indian cricket."