New Delhi: Former captain Sunil Gavaskar on Wednesday advised India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to be more flexible while deciding the playing eleven following their second consecutive ODI loss to New Zealand and suggested that paceman Ishant Sharma could be dropped in favour of an extra batsman.
India went down to New Zealand by 15 runs (D/L method) in Hamilton to trail 0-2 in the five-match series and lose their number one ODI rankings.
Gavaskar said that India had not quite got their combination right by continuously playing five batsmen and five bowlers.
"The team will have to look at the combination if you want to save the series. We have to understand that India are playing overseas and the combination of five batsmen and five bowlers is not working. India need to strengthen its batting line-up. The team requires one extra batsman in place of a bowler," Gavaskar said.
"I think every captain has some belief about certain things in the team. For example, Sourav Ganguly would not rely much on the left-arm spinners and during his captaincy not many left-arm spinners did flourish.
"Dhoni will have to be flexible. I think he is an open person and wants the best results for the team. It's here the team management, the coach and the selectors will have to tell him what is the best team combination," Gavaskar told a news channel.
Asked if the coach or the selectors asking the captain a particular team combination would not tantamount to interference, Gavaskar said, "They should not interfere but can suggest and discuss with the captain what is the best combination."
On Ishant Sharma who has been bleeding runs, Gavaskar said it's better to drop him and try some other players who have not got chances to play.
"In this tour, relative new comers like Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami seemed to have practice hard and so they have got their yorkers right. Ishant has five-six years of international cricket behind him but he seemed to be not learning that yorkers are a potent weapon for pacers," Gavaskar said.
"Whenever he gave away runs, India lose the momentum and a game is completely changed. If he does not want to learn, it's better someone takes his place."
The former captain said that the team management should try out the likes of allrounder Stuart Binny and legspinner Amit Mishra and try to stop the flow of runs conceded.
"India will have to get the combination right especially because the World Cup is not very far away. You have to look at the options now and try and find out the guys who can do the job. I think it is right time to look for other options in the playing eleven having lost the two matches.
"Stuart Binny can bat and bowl also. He can be an option. You have the likes of Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli but they have not been that doing well. Kohli has been inconsistent as a bowler. So the team can look for other options.
"Amit Mishra has been a tourist for some time, not getting a chance to play. He will bring some variety. The team can try him and see if the flow of runs can be stopped. Unless you try somebody, how are you going to know him."