Ravi Shastri has done wonders by making Kohli the boss: Gaekwad

"Shastri has put Kohli as the boss of the team. He has taken a backseat unlike Greg Chappell. I did the same with Azharuddin when he was the captain," said former India coach Anshuman Gaekwad.

India's captain Virat Kohli (R) and coach Ravi Shastri (L), training ahead of the second Twenty20 cricket match against Australia, at M Chinnaswamy Stadium (KSCA), in Bengaluru on February 26, 2019.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Former India coach Anshuman Gaekwad said former Indian teams never had the kind of options this year's World Cup team is blessed with as he rated each bowler a match winner.

“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 in any given condition.”

India's pace battery has the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, whom many rate as the world’s best with the white ball, in-form Mohammed Shami, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar who can 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 their good work in their maiden World Cup campaigns.

Gaekwad, who played for India in 40 Tests and 15 ODIs and coached the team from October 1997 to September 1999, and again in 2000 for a brief period — before John Wright succeeded him — also heaped praise on head coach Ravi Shastri.

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“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 (Mohammad) 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.”

The no.4 spot has been in a state of flux with the selectors trying out different players. Gaekwad, who also worked as a national selector, said the much-talked about No. 4 spot is more or less settled with K.L. Rahul fitting the bill.

“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.

India batsman K.L. Rahul is former India coach Anshuman Gaekwad's pick for the no. 4 spot.   -  FILE PHOTO/ K. MURALI KUMAR

 

“As far as Vijay Shankar is concerned, if he gets a chance in the XI we will see,” said the 66—year old.

Gaekwad likened “mentor” M.S. Dhoni’s presence in the team to Sachin Tendulkar, stressing on his indispensability to the team.

“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.

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“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.”