Former captain Mohammad Azharuddin on Friday said that even though India’s 15-man squad for the upcoming World Cup looks balanced, the bowling attack does seem to pose a worry.
“It is a balanced team, but my only worry is bowling. With the way they have bowled in Australia (in Test series) has not done well. Bowlers are really getting tired,” Azhar said at the launch of his cricket academy that is aimed to tap young talent from the region.
“After the (upcoming) triangular series, it remains to be seen how fit the bowlers are and how much potential they play up. But they will have to work hard as Australia and New Zealand are different places,” added the 51-year-old player.
Noting that the the World Cup squad has the “right mix of youngsters”, Azharuddin expressed hope that the team would live up to its potential in 50-over showpiece event. But Azhar advised the young leader in Kohli to curb his aggression.
“It (aggression) is good. I want players to be aggressive in their game. But as a captain, he (Kohli) should contain his aggressive approach a little bit. Then he can be a great captain like he is already a great player,” he said.
Asked about left-handed batsman Yuvraj Singh’s snub by the national selectors, Azhar said that the selectors have been harsh on some seniors.
“He (Yuvraj Singh) was not picked up among probables so it was difficult for the selectors to select him (for the world cup team) like (Virender) Sehwag, (Gautam) Gambhir and 2-3 other players more were not selected.
I think selectors have not given much weightage to the performance in the domestic Ranji game. I think before that whatever matches Yuvraj or Sehwag (Virender) played was not up to the mark which went against them,” he said.
Azhar also opined that the talented Yuvraj still has a lot of cricket left in him.
“I am also a big fan of him and I also respect him a lot (But) selectors’ squad which has selected is the best squad. I also feel sorry for him (Yuvraj),” Azhar said.
“Thirty two years is not a big age. I think he will get a chance and should continue to play as he can play for another
4-5 years. He should not feel bad and if he works hard, he will certainly get a chance,” he added.
However, Azharuddin, who remained captain of the Indian team for most of the 1990s, rejected the allegation of any favouritism during selection of the team members.
“How much we argue but selectors will select their team and the side has been selected. I think there was no favouritism while selecting the team by selectors.
Yuvraj has a lot of cricket left in him and he is not on retirement and should not feel disappointed,” he said.
Asked about the sudden retirement announced by Mahendra Singh Dhoni from Test cricket, Azharuddin said, though it was a personal decision, but felt that ‘Captain Cool’ could have called it a day after the ongoing series in Australia.
“It is his personal decision. But he (Dhoni) could have played another Test match or after series the series, then he could have announced his retirement but we should respect his decision,” he said.
Azhar also backed Kohli, saying the youngster will eventually succeed Dhoni in the ODIs and T20 cricket as well.
Never a fan of aggressive on-field behaviour himself, Azhar wants a curb on sledging in cricket.
Sharing his plans about starting a cricket academy, the cricketer-turned-politician said that he took this initiative in Punjab as there is a lot of talent in the state, especially in rural areas that needs to be tapped.
“Youth living in rural areas and belonging to poor families usually do not get chance to showcase their talent and our academy will find them and nurture them,” he said.
“There is a lot of talent in Punjab as boys here are quite strong and their talent could be tapped,” he added.
The first cricket academy will set up at Mohali, near Chandigarh. Talented youngsters will be nurtured and prepared to play at the district, state, national and international level, he said.