Rating each bowler a match winner, former India coach Anshuman Gaekwad said the kind of options this team is blessed with, India never had going into a World Cup. “We have a very balanced side – both in the batting and bowling department. And especially with the fast bowlers and spinners, the kind of option the Indian team has today, I don’t think we have ever had this kind of options,” Gaekwad told IANS. “Our bowlers, spinners or pacers, are match winners on any given condition.” The pace battery of the Virat Kohli-led Indian team has the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, whom many rate as the world’s best especially with the white ball, in-form Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar who is expected to swing the ball both-ways in English conditions.
In the spin bowling department, wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have struck gold for India so far and will be expected to continue the good work in their maiden World Cup campaign. Gaekwad, who featured for India in 40 Tests and 15 ODIs, also heaped praise on head coach Ravi Shastri, saying Shastri operates the way he used to during his time with the team. “He has done well right from the beginning. He has put captain (Kohli) as the boss of the team. He has taken a backseat unlike Greg Chappell. I did the same with (Md) Azharuddin when he was the captain. “Ravi has a great understanding with the captain and is a great man manager. Knowing Virat, the way he pushes the players everyone has to be on their toes and Ravi also helps in that.”
Gaekwad, who worked as a national selector also besides coaching the team from October 1997 to September 1999, and again in 2000 for a brief period – before John Wright succeeded him — said the much-talked about No. 4 spot is more or less settled with K.L. Rahul fitting the bill. There has been lot of changes at No. 4 since Kohli took over as captain. There has been a process of trying out new players for the No.4 spot by the selectors.
“Rahul is my pick because he is a stroke player and he will complement the top three as all of them are stroke players. Now there is Dinesh Karthik who has proved over a period of time that he can settle the innings once there are early wickets lost. “As far as Vijay Shankar is concerned, if he gets a chance in the XI we will see,” said the 66-year old who did not have Shankar in his 15-member squad before it was announced.
Gaekwad likened “mentor” M.S. Dhoni’s presence in the team to Sachin Tendulkar, saying if he was the coach he would pick the decorated former India skipper even if he was in the worst form of his life. “The biggest advantage Virat (Kohli) has is Dhoni. His mere presence gives confidence to the captain. You can’t go to the shop and buy experience, what Dhoni has. He is the mentor of the Indian team. When I was coach of the Indian team, I told Sachin during a series against Australia where he had a stiff back, to just stand at slips and don’t move. “He could not move, he was in a bad situation. So a mere presence of a player makes a big difference to the opposition.
“If I was the coach, I would play Dhoni if he is fit. Whether he gets runs or not, I don’t care. I play him. His fitness and keeping is out of the world anyway.” Gaekwad further said Rishabh Pant, whose exclusion from the squad made so much noise, is still a work in progress and his glovework needs to improve. “Pant still needs to learn a lot. His wicketkeeping needs to improve. As a batsman, Pant can finish a game on a given day but he is not a planner. Karthik is a planner.”