New Delhi: Munaf Patel is reliving the moments that culminated in India’s 2011 World Cup triumph but while doing so he also fears that the lack of a bowling spearhead like Zaheer Khan and an inexperienced attack might dent the team’s chances of defending the title Down Under.
Patel, a two-time World Cupper, says the current fast bowlers are not bowling well in partnerships and that is what is hurting the team most.
“It is quite clear that this team is not balanced as last time around. Sreesanth and I had the support of Zaheer Khan, someone who has played close to 100 Tests. And when he talks to you in between overs amid pressure situations, it makes a huge difference," said a jovial Patel, who nowadays is pretty content playing the Ranji Trophy for Baroda.
He is quick to add: “Harbhajan was around too. So all the guys were experienced and it made a huge difference. This time there is nothing like that but I still hope the team does well and retains the cup. Overall, there are not many experienced players around and the side is playing away."
Patel sees light at the end of the tunnel through Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma but says they must bowl well in tandem, the lack of which hurt India badly in the recently concluded Test series in Australia.
The crux of the bowing attack remains the same for the upcoming tri-series and the World Cup beginning February 14.
“There was no partnership between our bowlers in the Test series and that is what hurt us most. The way partnerships are important in batting, the same way it is in bowling. The pressure created at one end was released by loose balls from the other.
“That is where you need someone like Zaheer, who will talk to you in between balls. Having said that, situation in ODIs is not as bad as Tests. So hopefully the boys will do the job," said the 31-year-old from Ikhar, Gujarat.
Patel slipped out of the selectors’ radar soon after the World Cup, his last national appearance being the ODI against England in September 2011.
His has been a career hampered by injuries and it also saw him losing pace rapidly. Still he managed to pick 11 crucial wickets in a tournament like World Cup, only behind Zaheer and Yuvraj Singh.
Having suffered enough himself, Patel has a message for the younger crop of pacers.
“There is nothing better than combination of pace and control. So I will suggest the same for the current crop. If you ask me, pace should not be compromised at any cost. If you choose length over pace then it is wrong," said Patel.
What keeps him going in domestic cricket? “It is the right question you asked. I just take match by match. I don’t know what is going to happen (on playing for India again). I just give my hundred percent.
“It is not that tough to play domestic cricket. I play with the aim of helping Baroda win the Ranji Trophy. It was even the case when I was playing for India. I am fully fit and looking forward to a good season," said Patel.
Harbhajan had recently said that the obsession of preparing only greentops for the domestic circuit is giving “fake" confidence to the pacers and is taking spinners out of the game.
Patel has a different view on this tricky subject.
“If we only produce spin friendly wickets, then we can never win away from home. That is what happened for a long time. There is a need for true wickets. Like the ones we see in Mohali, Bombay and Baroda," he added.