Former Indian captain and the man to lead India to its first overseas Test victory M.A.K. Pataudi feels India is not doing enough to produce competent all-rounders.

On a personal visit here, Pataudi, better known as “Tiger”, told The Hindu that while other teams lay special emphasis on “building all-rounders” citing the example of Mitchell Johnson of Australia, Team India has made no such efforts and that’s the reason why “we have not had any solid all-rounders since Kapil Dev.”

Combination of factors

When asked about the team floundering in major tournaments like the World Cup, World Twenty20 and the Champions Trophy, he said that it was due to a combination of factors going wrong at the same time.

“Key players being out due to injury and poor bowling and fielding plagued the Indian campaign during all these major tournaments,” he said.

But what about the team’s better performance in bilateral or triangular ODI series and Tests during the same period? “The pitches in Sri Lanka suited Indian spinners. Harbhajan (Singh) and Yuvraj (Singh) did well there. In South Africa, where the pitches are faster and don’t suit spin, our fast bowlers couldn’t perform as expected,” said Pataudi.

But didn’t he lead India to its first overseas Test victory by playing with three spinners against host New Zealand? “Well that was in 1967-68, the pitches were soft and spongy. Conditions out of the sub-continent are different these days,” he said.

He also said that there was no competition among the various formats of the game and that all three support and complement each other.

“When ODIs were introduced, sceptics said they would ruin Test cricket but Test cricket is alive and more interesting than ever,” he said.

On being asked about whether there was any meat in Sachin Tendulkar’s suggestion of splitting the one-day game into four innings, he said, “When someone of the stature of Sachin suggests something, it is bound to generate interest and the ICC has taken it seriously, but I do not think there will be any changes made to the ODI format.”

Asked about Irfan Pathan, he said that his decline was a result of unnecessary media hype. Out of the current crop of young Indian bowlers, he said Ishant Sharma had a lot of potential.

On the issue of Ishant and other Indian pacemen such as Munaf Patel losing pace over the years, he said that this occurred because the bowlers were worried about getting injured all the time.

Favourite players

Asked about his favourite cricketers, he chose Sunil Gavaskar and Gundappa Viswanath from his generation and said that he “dreaded Andy Roberts and Wes Hall.”

From the current generation of cricketers, he said that Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting among batsmen and Brett Lee and Muttiah Muralitharan among bowlers were in the all-time big league of international cricketers.

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