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SportCricketThis Indian team plays fearless cricket: MSK Prasad

This Indian team plays fearless cricket: MSK Prasad

Published: 14th Dec 2020 11:45 pm

Hyderabad: As chairman of selectors, one of the biggest achievements for MSK Prasad was the historic Test series win in Australia in the 2018-19 season. As the new series gets under way with the pink-ball day and night Test in Adelaide from Thursday, Prasad is confident that this Indian team has the ability to repeat the 2018-19 show.

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“The first series win in Australia was a wonderful achievement by any standard though the critics may say that the hosts did not have the likes of David Warner and Steve Smith. But Virat Kohli and his team played outstanding cricket in that series and deserved the victory. Even with Warner and Smith, we could have won the series then because the Indian team played a very combative game. This year India would not have Kohli and Rohit Sharma for the major part of the series,’’ said the former chairman of selectors while talking to Telangana Today.

Prasad said this series could see some close encounters. “We have the team to beat the Australians again. My only concern is what will happen after Kohli comes back after the first Test. This team plays fearless cricket. In Kohli’s absence, it gives an opportunity to other young players, who are sure to raise the bar. Someone like Ajinkya Rahane can lead the team from the front. He showed his hunger by hitting a century in the tour game already. In Kohli’s absence, the focus will be shifted on Cheteshwar Pujara, KL Rahul, Rahane, and Hanuma Vihari.’’

The 45-year-old felt it is a big series for Hanuma Vihari. “I feel he will be a different Vihari after this series. He showed his character and the hunger for runs in the second warm-up match. He has the mental toughness to succeed in tough conditions.’’

Prasad pointed out that a lot of planning went into the 2018-19 series. “In fact, we were in the process of rebuilding the team. We saw Jasprit Bumrah as Test material during the South African series. We had a very good series in South Africa, England and Australia. It was unfortunate to lose the Test series in South Africa and England after some close matches.’’

The former wicket keeper said Kohli is number one as far as Test series is concerned. “He is strong and shows the hunger to succeed. I don’t see any captain in the world as strong as Kohli in Test cricket. He is aggressive both with his game and captaincy. By his sheer performance, Kohli has made Test cricket exciting.’’

Prasad felt it is a good competition among Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill, Rahul for the top spots. “They were part of the Indian team and it was a conscious effort to groom them to Test cricket. Kohli and Rohit Sharma have left indelible marks as big-time players for the country. These two batsmen have been huge influence on the younger cricketers with their performances.’’

He said Mohd Shami and Bumrah are fast, accurate and dangerous. “They instill fear among the batsmen. Ishant Sharma is a wily customer, but it is unfortunate that he will miss the series because of the injury. But with Umesh (Yadav), (Navdeep) Saini and (Mohd) Siraj, India has a strong pace attack along with Shami and Bumrah. The length is very important. We always felt Siraj as a wonderful red-ball bowler as he had a good five-wicket hauls with the India A team.’’

According to Prasad, Ashwin should play in the Test series. “He can bring in that experience. He has the ability to take wickets. For me Wriddhiman Saha is a reliable wicket keeper and he should be preferred ahead of Pant. He is best in the business.”

He concluded by saying, “In Australia, it is all about aggression. Pujara has to repeat his 2018-19 form. He has to hold the forte at the top and if he can do that, half of the problem is over. The start of the series is important and we have to do well in Adelaide. Otherwise, we will be in some sort of pressure.‘’

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