Sub-continent pitches have been known for favouring the batsmen and giving bowlers nightmares, but if the warm-up matches are any indication, the Test nations – barring India’s score of 360 for five against New Zealand on Wednesday – have found it tough to post big totals except when they have played against the minnows.Former and current Indian players believe that it will be the bowlers who will hold the key to this edition of the World Cup and selecting the right bowling combination will definitely give the captains a headache.Former left-arm spinner Maninder Singh, India’s highest wickettaker in the 1987 edition of the World Cup, feels it will not just be about the spinners.”Frankly, one can’t expect the ball to swing in the sub-continent as much as they do in Australia, England or South Africa. But the new Kookaburra ball will definitely swing in the first six or seven overs and the pacers have to ensure that they go all-out to impose pressure on the batsmen,” Maninder said.Their next role will be to get the ball to reverse-swing. In the modern era, all the top pacers have mastered the art of reverse swinging the ball. As a result, the spell from the 28th over to the 34th over will be crucial as the ball will definitely be reversing. This is where the Pakistan bowlers will turn up the heat. Umar Gul and Shoaib Akhtar can never be discounted when it comes to reversing the ball. Even Zaheer Khan has become more of a thinking bowler and he will definitely save up some energy to hurl the reverse-swinging yorkers in the death overs.advertisement”Although the Kookaburra ball doesn’t have a pronounced seam, the spinners will still come in handy as sub-continent wickets grip and turn even in ODIs. So, for me, bowlers will hold the advantage this time round and the batsmen will not have an easy ride – as expected by many.”Maninder also stressed on the importance of part-time bowlers. “The part-time bowlers will need to be used well. While all teams have gone in with specialist pacers and spinners, the part-timers will come into play in a big way as often we will see them being used to check the flow of runs in the middle-overs,” he said.Batting legend Rahul Dravid echoed Maninder’s sentiments saying it was India’s strong list of part-time bowlers that gave them the edge.”India have a well-balanced outfit with a number of spinning allrounders or part-timers. This gives us a big advantage,” he said.Although he was a top-class offspinner himself, Erapalli Prasanna feels the contribution of the pacers can’t be discounted especially on Indian pitches where reverseswing will come in to play.”The nature of the sub-continent pitches will be perennially slow, helping the spinners. But a lot will depend on the pacers as well in the first 10 overs. Also, getting the ball to reverse in the latter stages will be crucial. As far as India is concerned, the crucial factor for me is how Zaheer leads the pace attack in the powerplay and how the spinners and part-time bowlers bowl in the span between the 25th and 40th overs,” he said.Former Test opener Aakash Chopra feels contrary to popular belief, it is going to be the bowlers who will run the show.”The quality of bowling attack will be crucial. Since most teams will be looking to score heavily, it will be the teams that can restrict the opposition who will win the matches. Restriction will be the key,” he said.Former pacer Madan Lal too feels bowlers will hold the key on the slow and low sub-continent wickets. “If the bowlers use their brains and stick to a wicket-to-wicket line, it will be very difficult for the batsmen to score as the ball won’t be coming on to the bat easily. A restricting line can force the batsmen to hit out or get out. Scoring high in the powerplays will also be playing heavily on the batsmen’s mind,” he said.”I feel even the part-timers will be crucial to the success of the teams. Someone like a Chris Gayle will also be useful just like a Yuvraj or a Yusuf.”With Kevin Pietersen and Graeme Smith already criticising the slow nature of the wickets – making batting difficult – it isn’t a surprise that the bowlers will be instrumental to teams’ success in the Cup.