The Indian cricket team hasn’t played an ODI since March and former India international Mohammad Kaif feels that the side will bank on the experience gained from the intra-squad practice games ahead of the limited overs series against Sri Lanka.
“They have been there (in Colombo) for a couple of weeks now and they have been training. Before that, most of the players were playing the IPL. Of course, there has been a break but they’ll be fine because they won’t be playing in overseas conditions. They’ll be playing in the subcontinent, which is very similar to home,” Kaif said during an interaction organised by Sony Pictures Sports Network.
With the regular coach and captain, Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli, away on England tour, the red ball team will be coached by former India captain Rahul Dravid – who has previously worked with the India U-19 and A teams – while Shikhar Dhawan will be the captain. “He (Dravid) is pretty relaxed. He doesn’t like to complicate things. He has done a good job with the U-19 boys, India A boys and most of the players would know how he reacts, his style of coaching. So, all the young players would know him really well. So, it helps the coach if he knows the players inside out,” Kaif said.
Former Indian cricketer Mohammad Kaif. (FILE PHOTO) – K. RAMESH BABU/ The Hindu
“People say that Rahul Dravid likes to give a lot of ideas about technique but I know that he wants the player to know how to score runs and how to pick wickets. That’s the bottom line. Technique alag hai. Koi open-chest khelta hai, koi side-on khelta hai, koi jhuk ke khelta hai, koi lamba khelta hai (technique is different for every cricketer). Apni apni aapki style hai par if you are able to get the job done for the team, wohi coach ki priority honi chahiye and Rahul Dravid knows that is the way to back young players.”
Talking about Dhawan the batsman, Kaif said that he should aim for a spot in the Test side. “He has time as there are not a lot of matches and he is not a part of the Test side. He should gain whatever knowledge he gets from Rahul Dravid and should spend as much time as possible because his aim shouldn’t be just to play T20 World Cup because he is a fantastic player.”
“With the kind of form he is in, he should also eye a comeback into the Test team because the openers have not been able to settle. Mayank (Agarwal) played, Shubman Gill got injured and therefore he might not be able to play. Even Prithvi Shaw got a chance. So, Shikhar Dhawan is not out of the race.”
A lot of focus will also be on the left-arm chinaman Kuldeep Yadav, who could not get a single wicket in the two ODIs he played against England in March. Kaif, who had played with Yadav in his final Ranji season, said, “He is a unique talent. Captain, senior players and coaches have a big role in getting good performances from such players.”
“Boht umdaa gendbaaz hai (He is a terrific bowler). This will be a very important series for him and a good series can change many things.”
Watch the first ODI on July 18 LIVE on Sony Ten 1 and Sony Six in English and on Sony Ten 3 in Hindi from 2.30pm IST