Picking the West Indies and England as the biggest threat, India’s Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane Monday said an “experienced” bowling attack on helpful English conditions could give Virat Kohli’s men edge in the World Cup.
With a new round-robin format in place, he said early momentum and consistency will be key to India’s success in the tournament starting in the United Kingdom from May 30.
“Overall our team is pretty strong. Our overall package is very good. This time the World Cup will be played in a new format, we will play nine league games, so momentum and consistency will be important,” said Rahane, who couldn’t find a place in the squad.
“If you start well you will have to keep up the momentum, you will have to play consistent cricket throughout the tournament. In ICC tournament any team picks up momentum at any time, so we can’t take any team lightly,” added the right-handed batsman, who last played an ODI for India in February 16, 2018 against South Africa in Centurion.
The Mumbai batsman said India’s bowling attack will give them edge on helpful English conditions. “Our overall attack, both pace and spin, is very experienced. The good thing is that all the bowlers in our team are wicket-takers and the team which has wicket-taking bowlers, their chances increase. We have bowlers who can pick up wickets in any situation,” he said.
“The English conditions will definitely help our bowlers because they know the conditions well having played their recently. They will definitely have to make some adjustments but that won’t be a problem.”
Talking about other teams, Rahane picked New Zealand, apart from the West Indies and England, as favourites along with India. “I don’t believe in pinpointing any particular team but England is a good team. New Zealand have done well in ICC tournaments and West Indies is an unpredictable side. They can beat any team on their day,” he said.
Rahane, who led the limited overs side at times in the past, said Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s vast experience will be of great help for skipper Kohli in the showpiece.
“Virat is a very good leader. Everyone has different qualities. Mahi bhai (Dhoni) has different quality of leadership and Virat will definitely get good support and guidance from Mahi bhai. He is such a senior player and being the wicketkeeper he can set the entire field and guide the bowlers on what length and line to bowl,” he said.
Talking about his personal career, Rahane said just like any other cricketer, he also aspired to play in the World Cup. But after being ignored, he has set his sights on his upcoming county stint with Hampshire to fine-tune his batting skills.
“I always try to control things rather than thinking about consequences. I always prefer to stay in the present. What is important for me is to play well for Hampshire county. It is my first stint with Hampshire and I am really excited,” said Rahane on the sidelines of the CEAT Cricket Rating Awards here.
“Every player wants to represent their country in the World Cup and my dream is also to represent my country and play in the World Cup. But right now my focus is completely on the county stint and I am looking forward to do well for Hampshire and learn many more things. I had a phone conversation with Rahul bhai (Rahul Dravid) and he told me that he actually learnt a lot playing county cricket. It’s completely a new experience.”
Rahane is looking at the county stint to prepare himself for the West Indies tour, which is scheduled after the World Cup. “I had played a couple of Test series over there in 2014 and last summer, so I know English conditions pretty well. But in county you get to learn so many things from your teammates, the culture is different and as an overseas player there will be responsibility. So, it’s all about being positive,” he said.
“I am now looking forward to change to red ball cricket from white ball because after that we are going to West Indies for Test series. So my focus is on playing good cricket and staying positive,” Rahane added.