MS Dhoni's candid confession that the Indian team was still looking for an all-rounder to fill in the No 7 slot has not come a moment too soon. As the ODI team prepares for the World Cup in real earnest it is imperative that the crucial slot is filled. The value of an all-rounder as different from a utility or bits and pieces cricketer cannot be overemphasized.
In four successive campaigns from 1979 to 1992 the team had no worries, thanks to the presence of the peerless Kapil Dev. For good measure in a couple of those campaigns he had Ravi Shastri and Manoj Prabhakar for company.
In 1996, Prabhakar and Ajay Jadeja were assigned the double duties while three years later Ajit Agarkar and Robin Singh were picked for the dual roles. None of the four really did a commendable job with the result that in 2003, with no ubiquitous player around, the team generally took the field with seven batsmen and four bowlers with a couple of batsmen sharing the ten overs. It worked like a dream.
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