Former captain Kapil Dev expressed amazement at the pace at which the current Indian cricket team settled into a formidable outfit despite losing, one after another, some of the world’s top players over the last few years.
“There is no team in the world, after losing their legendary players, bounced back quicker than this Indian team. Normally, once the great players go in a bunch, a team needs at least five to seven years to come back. But this Indian team has come back so quickly, I have never seen something like this. I am amazed,” Kapil told PTI.
“Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, he has been the most important, all of them have retired one by one,” he added, buttressing his point.
The legendary cricketer spoke on the sidelines of a panel discussion on India’s upcoming home season organised by broadcast partner Star Sports.
Kapil said Test skipper Virat Kohli has taken the responsibility of the team after the departure of legends.
“Virat Kohli has taken that responsibility of a super star, he is a role model we all watch growing up.”
Asked about Kohli’s captaincy, India’s 1983 World Cup winning skipper said, “He is different from Dhoni, he is very aggressive, the on-our-face expression is there, every captain comes out with his own thinking. He is one player who want to win all the matches, whose thinking is very positive and that’s a great sign for Indian cricket.
“We have seen in Australia when he was ready to chase over 400 runs in the last day and that shows the mindset of a cricketer. He is ready to take the challenge head on.”
One of India’s greatest all-rounders Kapil called offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who is fast gaining the reputation of being a very useful hand with the bat, as the team’s most important player.
“To me he is the team’s allrounder, a bowling allrounder. The team depends on him, he is the most important cricketer, he is the one who can change the game singlehandedly.”
Regarding fast bowlers, he seemed worried with their fitness.
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“Fast bowlers’ main worry is their fitness. Over last six years so many players have been in and out. Mohammad Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar their fitness is always in doubt. So I hope this long season we will see all the fast bowlers in action. They are actually far better than what we used to think.”
Asked about coach Anil Kumble, Kapil said, “Give him a couple of years, he has always been very dedicated and knowing his temperament, he will be very good for the team. He will instill the same dedication in the players.”
When asked about Dhoni, he said, “Dhoni has already done so well for the country. I think whatever he is doing now is bonus. You don’t get a player of his calibre every now and then. He is a fabulous cricketer and he should know when is the right time to go.”
57-year-old was highly impressed with KL Rahul’s run of scores in the recent past.
“Rahul has been an amazing player, never thought he would be like this when I saw him first. These young players, whenever they got the chance, they grabbed it and performed so well,” he said.
Kapil was delighted to see so many Tests featuring in India’s home season after a long time.
“I think after a long time we are going to see a home series so big, as a player I always look upto Test cricket which is real cricket. It will be a test of nerves and all the planning and everything you will see in Tests. This reminds me of the 1980s.”
Kapil said team combinations will always depend on the conditions.
“I am being very honest, you don’t know the pitches, what is the opposition team exactly, you pick the team accordingly, it’s a last minute call by captain and management. Everything depends on the pitch, opposition, conditions.”