Team India needs fresh blood, groom Umesh and Varun: Akram
Colombo: With Zaheer Khan's form on the wane, former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram says it's time the new selection committee starts grooming youngsters such as Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron to bolster India's pace attack.
"Where is Umesh Yadav? And Varun Aaron seems to be a forgotten name. With the new selection committee in place, both Umesh and Varun should be groomed to power India's pace battery," Akram said.
Despite pulling off a one-run win over South Africa last night, India were ousted from the Super Eights stage of the ICC World Twenty20 on inferior net run-rate.
"I hear Varun is injured. I think the BCCI needs to get after him and pull him out of his problems. At least Umesh should have been in the T20 squad," Akram was quoted as saying.
Talking about the team's opening combination, Akram continued to back out-of-form Virender Sehwag.
"India's opening combination has been a problem off late. Gautam Gambhir was sketchy and Virender Sehwag unpredictable. No matter what, I am still a Sehwag fan. He is still a bombshell and till India have a definite replacement, Sehwag cannot be ignored."
The former Pakistan pacer was also not convinced with India's combination in the tournament here.
"After watching India in five matches in Colombo, I am not sure if the MS Dhoni-Duncan Fletcher combination was picking the right team in every match.
"I am puzzled with the way the Indian team management has picked playing XIs. For example, I feel a wicket-taking bowler like Harbhajan Singh was missed against the ragged South Africans on Tuesday night."
Not just India's bowling but the team's inconsistent top order is also a cause for concern, according to Akram.
"There is a lesson in every defeat. For India, there are genuine concerns about its bowling and of course, top order batting. A team is world class only when it is complete in every respect.
"India's batting is one of the strongest in the world, but if you are expecting Zaheer Khan or a Lakshmipathy Balaji to win you a tight match every day, think again.
"Giving Balaji the last over against South Africa was suicidal. A bowler on a comeback is always short of confidence and I think India were lucky to win by a run."
Referring to Zaheer's lack of form, he said, "I have said before that Zaheer has to choose the format of cricket he wants to play. I can't see him running in hard every ball and bamboozling batsmen with pace and movement.
"India must find replacements and very soon at that. India need fresh legs and stronger shoulders because they will be playing a series of matches at home from November.