Mohinder Amarnath doesn’t mince words. The former India cricketer and an erstwhile national selector believes that\ the Indian team management has ‘over-exposed’ the spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. “It was important to preserve them well and make them available only for important games,” Amarnath told Sportstar on the sidelines CEAT Cricket Rating Awards.
A key member of India’s World Cup-winning team of 1983, Amarnath says the batsmen need to play a key role if India wants to fare well in the World Cup, which begins in England later this month.
When India won the World Cup in 1983, you played a key role. Now that another edition of the tournament beckons. Does it bring back memories?
(Smiles) World Cup is all about chasing your dreams. One gets to fulfil those dreams once in life, it doesn’t happen everyday. Not only for me, but for all of us, the 1983 World Cup remains special. It was not about individual performances, but we delivered as an unit. When you play together as a team, several people step up in different situations and take the pressure off the others, that’s very important.
You don’t need 10 people to deliver every day, all you require are three-four solid players, who can make opportunities count on that particular day. And there are times, when teams surprise everyone and achieve success. That’s the beauty of the game. We did the same in 1983 and won the title!
“Look, you had a weapon in spinners — Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal — but you have over-exposed them. The team management should have preserved the two well for the World Cup. Now, almost every team know how to tackle them. So technically, you don’t have any mystery or magic in your kitty. Now that they have played too much cricket, there’s nothing new to offer and everyone knows everything about the two.”
What are your thoughts on the current team?
This team looks settled. Virat Kohli has been leading by example, then there is Rohit Sharma — who is doing equally well. There is no dearth of experience and the team has got all the bases covered, so that’s a good sign. The bowling unit has quality pacers and spinners. But let’s keep one thing in mind: Over the years, the wickets and the conditions in England have changed and for that the batsmen need to fire. These days, almost all teams can play spinners well, so you don’t really have any special weapon left, so it is important that the batsmen take the centre stage and win you games. I know we have played good cricket overseas, but that’s all in the past. We need to move on. I am sure this team has the capacity to be No.1. No one remembers the side finishing second.
What do you mean by not having any special weapon?
Look, you had a weapon in spinners — Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal — but you have over-exposed them. I personally feel, the team management should have preserved the two well for the World Cup. Now, almost every team know how to tackle them. So technically, you don’t have any mystery or magic in your kitty. Now that they have played too much cricket, there’s nothing new to offer and everyone knows everything about the two. So in such a scenario, batsmen are very important. If your batting clicks, then you stand a good chance.
What should have the team management done to ensure Kuldeep and Chahal were not over-exposed? Should they have been rested more?
No, resting them is not the solution. But, I feel, it was important to be selective with them and not field them in each and every game. Why would you use your special talents for every game? It was important to keep them under wraps and make them available only for important games.
Kuldeep also looked quite off-colour in the IPL…
IPL is of no significance. It is not a preparation for World Cup. But the thing is, now everyone knows their strength and weaknesses. It is true that you cannot dominate over batsmen every time, and in England things will change as the grounds will be different. So, it will be more challenging.
So, do you have any suggestion for the bowlers?
It is important that you put pressure on the batsmen. In England, the ball doesn’t swing as much as it used to be earlier. The red ball still moves around, but not the white ball. But having said that, the pacers will still get a bit of advantage initially. This is the beginning of summer and it will still be cold in June. England is a very interesting country where weather changes from south to north. These factors need to be taken into consideration and that’s where the pace bowlers will come into play. So the pacers need to spearhead the attack and they need to be backed by the spinners.
“IPL is of no significance. It is not a preparation for World Cup. But the thing is, now everyone knows their strength and weaknesses. It is true that you cannot dominate over batsmen every time, and in England things will change as the grounds will be different. So, it will be more challenging.”
With Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar around, how well settled is India’s fast bowling department?
They are all experienced bowlers and they know how to deliver under pressure. The only thing is that they should not over-think about the World Cup and should consider it as just another match. There is no need to pile up the pressure. The key thing is to keep your cool and handle tricky situations. They have the balance, they have to click at the right moment. If you look back at 1983, bowlers won the World Cup for India, but this time, things look brighter for batsmen. They need to contribute more. I think, the real tournament starts in the knock-out phase.
Since you spoke about the importance of batting, what are your thoughts on India’s No.4 batsman? There seems to be a lot of debate over the right choice…
There is no problem. There is no confusion for No.4. You have been preparing for the last three years, so you zero in on a particular player and back him for the fourth slot. You cannot keep changing players. It is important that you identify one of them and back him. That should solve all the problems.
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