Don't judge India on the basis of just two losses in West Indies: Mohammad Kaif
Former Indian cricketer Mohammad Kaif believes the Indian side is capable of winning the ODI World Cup 2023 at home and believes the team's performance and prepared cannot be assessed just on the basis of two T20I losses in the West Indies.
After winning the two-match Test series and three-match ODI series in the Caribbean, India is trailing 0-2 in the five-match T20I series, prompting criticism of the team's preparations for two major tournaments this year: the Asia Cup in Pakistan and Sri Lanka and the ODI World Cup at home.
However, during a gathering here, Kaif stated that India's worries of failing in the World Cup were baseless. However, he stated that speed bowler Jasprit Bumrah must be totally healthy for the hosts to have a chance of ending their championship drought.
"India has only lost two matches (T20Is against the West Indies), so we are not overly concerned." After the two losses, I'm getting a lot of unfavourable reactions. But I'll just say that our squad is fiercely competitive.
"I'm not going to pass judgement on (India) based on two consecutive losses (in the West Indies)." The only problem is that important players are absent.
"The absence of Bumrah is the most significant factor." If he completely recovers… one component is to complete the rehabilitation, while the other is to attain match fitness. If he can restore that (match fitness), it will be a huge boost for Team India.
"If Bumrah is fully fit, we have a great chance of winning the World Cup at home," Kaif explained.
Bumrah will make his T20 debut against Ireland after missing over a year due to back surgery, and Kaif blamed the 29-year-old pacer's absence for India's spate of defeats in big events during that time.
"A lot of people are talking about how the (India) team under (chief coach) Rahul Dravid recently lost the (T20) Asia Cup, the (T20) World Cup in Australia, and the World Test Championship in England."
"I understand everything; mistakes have occurred." But I believe it will be difficult to play without Bumrah. Consider that he is the biggest match-winner, and Rohit Sharma did not obtain his services.
"I believe that once Bumrah is fully fit, he will win 50% of the matches for the Indian team." "I believe that if Bumrah is in the team and a few others like KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer return, we have the players to win the (World Cup) trophy," Kaif said.
New players will have to wait
With youngsters like Yashasvi Jaiswal impressing in the series against the West Indies, there has been talk of them being considered for the World Cup in India, but Kaif believes that when players like Bumrah, Iyer, and Rahul return to the side, even someone like Mohammed Siraj may not find a place in the Playing XI.
"Shreyas Iyer is hurt, and KL Rahul is on the mend." I'm hoping they'll all be back in time for the World Cup. So, despite all of the hoopla about new players joining the team (for the World Cup), they will not be given a chance. "Your (Team India's) XI is ready," said Kaif.
"When he returns, Iyer will play at No. 4." You have Shubman Gill and captain Rohit Sharma as openers, Virat Kohli at No. 3, (Shreyas) Iyer at No. 4, and KL Rahul at No. 5.
"Hardik Pandya at No. 6, (Ravindra) Jadeja at No. 7, Axar Patel or Shardul Thakur at No. 8 depending on the pitch condition." Kuldeep Yadav will bat ninth… he has a solid ODI record, while Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah will bat tenth and eleventh.
"Even Siraj might not make the starting XI." So, if it's tough to accommodate Siraj, the young guys we're talking about could not have a chance at this World Cup," Kaif said.
Kaif explained that his reasoning was based on the fact that seniors will be given first priority in the team, with players like Sanju Samson, Ishan Kishan, and Suryakumar Yadav getting a look-in ahead of some fresh faces.
"If there is anyone in the squad, it would be Sanju Samson, Ishan Kishan, or Suryakumar Yadav because they have been playing for a long time."
"The new faces being discussed are only for this (West Indies) tour." When the Asia Cup and World Cup are held, only the most senior players will compete."