India should play five bowlers in the semifinal, says Kumble

Former Indian leg-spinner Anil Kumble felt that India should go with Mohammed Shami ahead of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, given it is slow pitch against New Zealand in the World Cup semifinal.


Anil Kumble said that Indian team is going through a golden era.   -  Getty Images

India should field both its wrist-spinners in Tuesday’s semifinal clash against New Zealand, believes Anil Kumble. Yuzvendra Chahal was rested from India’s meeting with Sri Lanka while Kuldeep Yadav was left out of the side that faced Bangladesh. Kumble, though, is in favour of deploying both against the Kiwis.

“If it was England in the semifinals, you would have thought differently. But since it's New Zealand, I'd certainly go with both,” he told Sportstar on Sunday.

Virat Kohli seemingly has another difficult decision to make in Manchester, in having to choose between Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami. Kumble would prefer to see the latter in action.

“If you have a slow pitch at Old Trafford, then maybe Bhuvi, but otherwise my five bowlers will be the five attacking options,” he said.

“Shami has been brilliant. Jasprit Bumrah has been exceptional whenever he's come on to bowl. Hardik Pandya has been really good, giving 10 overs consistently. So these would be my best three seamers, to go with the two wrist-spinners.”

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Kumble, who is an exclusive cricket expert with CNN-News 18, was effusive in his praise of Rohit Sharma.

“Five hundreds with two games to go – you can’t ask for a better tournament,” he said.

“And look at the quality of those hundreds as well. The one against South Africa was exceptional. It was India’s first match, he was coming in with not many runs behind him in the IPL, and people were talking about his lack of form. Even in the practice game against New Zealand, he hadn’t got runs. He's been the stand-out performer. The top three have all been brilliant.”

Anil Kumble

Former India coach Anil Kumble lavished praise on opening batsman Rohit Sharma.   -  Getty Images


The former India leg-spinner dismissed concerns about the middle-order.

“Every team, at certain times, has certain combinations not standing up in a game. And good teams know how to mask those and still find a way to win. That's exactly what India has done. I feel Rishabh Pant, M.S. Dhoni and Hardik Pandya are currently the best for those positions – two powerful hitters, and one calm head in M.S.”

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Asked about Dhoni, who has been criticised for his display with the bat in a couple of matches, Kumble remarked: “Yeah, you can say, 'Why is he looking to take a single when you need 10 runs an over?' But it's important to look at the overall combination, the way India has won. I don't think you need to worry too much about one particular player, focus there and criticize him. He's been a quality player for India and his experience will be needed in this semifinal.”

Indian cricket was going through a “golden period”, Kumble stated.

“If you can leave out someone like R. Ashwin and – for the most part so far – Ravindra Jadeja, it says a lot about your bench strength,” he said.

“It's not often that you go into a World Cup as favourites. That itself speaks volumes. This is an era where India can dominate world cricket in all three formats. This is a golden period for Indian cricket.”

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