'Need to have two pacers in playing XI'

Former India pacer and UP coach Prasad stresses on preparing sporting pitches

Even as the talk revolved around whether India should go for spinner-friendly tracks against England, former India medium pacer Venkatesh Prasad felt that the home side should not return to the era of playing with just one fast bowler.

Prasad believed that India's fast bowling department has come a long way and hoped there would be at least two fast bowlers in the playing XI.  In fact, in the last couple of years, the Indian fast bowlers have been instrumental in getting 20 wickets with Zaheer Khan admirably leading the pack. While Zaheer’s form has come under scrutiny, the success of spinners R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha against the West Indies and New Zealand at home has once again shifted the focus back to tweakers. 

“To a large extent I support that we should play to our strength but right now I am not sure what is our strength,” said Prasad, who is coaching the Uttar Pradesh team. “To get a result one needs to take 20 wickets, whether you prepare a fast track or a track that will help spinners. We have always done well in India and to a certain extent we need to go for a slightly spinning surface. But what I don’t like is to go with one fast bowler that we used to do a long time back. It will be a shame. We do have fast bow-lers and I am sure they will go with at least two.”

He advises fast bowlers to rely on reverse swing. “Of course, one may not expect same carry and bounce or probably a bit of seam movement because of rough surface but the advantage the bowlers will have is reverse swing and that is what they should be looking at,” he said. “I have been part of quite a bit of matches in India where you can get a bit of reverse swing. If you are smart enough, you can use it to your advantage.”

Prasad stressed on the preparation of sporting pitches in India. “To encourage fast bowling, we need to prepare some sporting pitches. Also, we should be organising a lot of A tours to countries like South Africa, England and Australia.”

Prasad, who has played in 33 Tests and 161 ODIs, advocated stringent fine for associations which prepares flat tracks in domestic games. “I would say the state associations should be heavily fined if they prepare flat tracks and if the first innings lead becomes the decider. You are killing the game and discouraging fast bowlers.

It is one of the reason why fast bowlers in India cut down their pace and rely more on movement.”

Prasad has been enjoying returning to coaching. “I was working with the Asian Cricket Council but it was more of an administrative job. I was missing the challenge of coaching and making players perform individually,” he said.

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