Sydney, March 22:
Former India bowling coach Joe Dawes doubts whether the defending champions can replicate the devastating impact Pakistan speedster Wahab Riaz had when they play Australia in Thursday’s cricket World Cup semi-final.
Dawes, who worked as India’s coach between February 2012 and October 2014, on Sunday also said Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men will be confronted with the psychological baggage of their winless Australian summer campaign against the Cup co-hosts.
Riaz, 29, is still the talk of the World Cup despite Pakistan being on their way home, owing to a memorable spell in Adelaide, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
The left-armer’s spell removed opener David Warner and skipper Michael Clarke and had Shane Watson behaving like a cat on a hot tin roof on a responsive Adelaide Oval pitch. Riaz had the home team under pressure during their 214-run chase.
But Australia eventually managed to weather the storm and won by six wickets.
The Indians will note the vulnerability of the Australian batsmen in their quarter-final. But while their pace trio of Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Mohit Sharma has improved a lot, they don’t have a Riaz clone in their line-up, said Dawes.
“No doubt, they’ll try that. (But) around the wicket is going to be a bit harder than just having a left-hander there,” he said on Sunday.
“They will have watched that and will give it a go, and Umesh has definitely got the pace to do it, but he’s not an overly tall man so that sort of changes the trajectory and the bounce,” he said.
The left-armers, Dawes said, “are proving to be quite difficult throughout the whole tournament.”
Dawes feels that even though Duncan Fletcher is a clever coach, India don’t have a left-arm pacer to repeat Pakistan’s Riaz havoc.
“They’ll be doing their homework and will give it a crack. Fletch (Fletcher) is a pretty astute coach. He’ll be watching all of these things and he’ll look to try and bring that in somewhere and give it a whirl,” he said.
“But the left-hander is a big advantage and that’s where the Indians don’t have anyone with real pace, or any left-hand bowlers here at the moment.”
Shami has 17 wickets at an average of 13 in the World Cup to be third behind left-armers Trent Boult (New Zealand) and Mitchell Starc (Australia) on the wicket tally. The right-arm seamer has been skipper Dhoni’s key man.
After four months in the country, his success is an indication that India have finally found their range.
But after being unable to register a win against Australia throughout a Test series and One-Day International (ODI) tri-series campaign, there are undeniable mental hurdles to overcome, according to Dawes.
“During the Test series they really struggled for consistency. They bowled some good balls, then really let the pressure off.”
“It looks like maybe adapting to the conditions and getting their lengths right they’ve really improved their consistency so they’re building pressure now,” the Queenslander told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Dawes said that skipper Dhoni, 33, is the man behind India’s turnaround but his team faces a big challenge against Australia.
“M.S. (Dhoni) leads them well in One-Day cricket and they’ve sort of got on a roll. I still think under pressure they’ll be tested. I’m not sure they’ve been tested a great deal under pressure yet.”
According to Dawes, “That’s going to be the real challenge in a semi-final against Australia, where there is that little bit of no doubt psychological damage over the summer where they’ve been hit around a bit.”
“I think they have got the tools to hurt any side, it’s just whether or not they can be consistent enough to put the ball in the right area on the day, which they have and haven’t done throughout the summer,” Dawes signed off.