The Indian team is good enough to reach the semi-finals of T20 World Cup but for the side to play at its full potential, Hardik Pandya "needs to start bowling" and Bhuvneshwar Kumar must crank up the pace, feels former Australian speedster Brett Lee.
In an exclusive interview to PTI, Lee spoke on the Indian team's bowling attack and said it has the ability to make a comeback after the 10-wicket defeat to Pakistan in the Super 12s opener in Dubai.
Asked about Pandya's role in the team, Lee said: "A strong Indian team is a strong Indian team with Hardik Pandya bowling if he is fully fit of course. If he is not fully fit, you might have to look at different options, but I believe that he has to be in the team as a genuine all-rounder."
"He has to bowl, he has great skills, he bowls well at death, he can hit the yorker, bowls good bouncer, wonderful change of pace, so he is that kind of guy, who adds extra bit of spark to this Indian team," the fearsome fast bowler of yesteryear said.
Bhuvneshwar's lack of pace hasn't escaped Lee's attention and he wants the UP seamer to hit speeds in late 130s in order to be effective.
"Look, Bhuvneshwar's great ability was to swing the ball both ways. Not many fast bowlers around the world can shape the ball both ways, and to be effective on these wickets, Bhuvneshwar has to bowl close to 140 kmph per hour. I think he needs to bowl quick and he needs variation," Lee observed.
He also felt that against Pakistan, Bhuvneshwar was trying too many things and erred in length.
"I think he missed a trick the other evening and he may have tried a few different things. Bhuvneshwar is effective when he bowls that beautiful length at knee-roll height and ball comes in to give him lbw or caught behind. Hopefully, he gets that right next game."
For someone who has played most of his cricket on pacer-friendly bouncy tracks, Lee believes that length is a relative term dependant on tracks.
"If its Sharjah, the length of one's delivery has to be a fraction back because, there isn't a lot of bounce. At the end of the day, what you are trying to achieve is to bowl a ball where it hits the top of off-stump and whether it's pitched at 6 and half or 7 metre length," he explained.
He feels that Mohammed Shami has been so successful of late in T20 cricket because he bowls that "ideal Test match length".
"Someone like Mohammed Shami has done exceptionally well in T20 format recently. I watched him in IPL and the reason he has done well is that he has hit that Test match length."
Lee is happy that Varun Chakravarthy and Ravindra Jadeja are the two front-line spinners in the playing XI and expects Ravichandran Ashwin to make the team only if there is a fast bowler not doing well.
"Chakravarthy is a quality spinner with wonderful leg break, good top spinner and a wrong 'un and he is in form. But when you think about Ashwin, he is also world class but I still believe you should go in with three in-form fast bowlers who are doing the business.
Treatment meted out to Warner during IPL was atrocious
David Warner's form of late has not exactly been great but in Lee's book, any Australian team would have the left-handed opener's name at the top. Asked if Steve Smith should replace Warner at the top, Lee said: "No. Look David Warner is like a fine Jacob Creek's vintage wine which gets better with age.
"Reason I have backed him throughout the IPL was because the behaviour he faced was atrocious and being stripped off captaincy and not being played in XI and not allowed to go the stadium, is not the way to treat a genuine out and out 'Orange Cap holder," Lee was livid with how SunRisers Hyderabad treated their champion player.
"Warner is one of the first players to be be picked in the Australian cricket team and he will open and he will score runs. Great thing with Steve Smith is that he is a floater, he can bat at 3, 4 or can also open the innings but you don't need to," he said.