While he may not be involved in any capacity in the Indian Premier League, former India skipper and chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar loves to watch the tournament. The other night he marvelled at the power of Andre Russell as he smashed an unbeaten 48 from 13 balls to help Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) chase down Royal Challengers Bangalore’s target of 206 with five wickets in hand and five balls to spare.
It was a brutal innings that made RCB captain Virat Kohli look helpless. Kohli has now seen RCB lose six matches in a row, and given that India also lost the T20 and One-day International (ODI) series against Australia at home, questions have been asked whether Indian cricket is in right hands. At least Vengsarkar has no doubt.
“IPL performances cannot be the criteria to judge anyone. Virat is in excellent form. He is one of the great batsmen of all time and, as a captain, he is evolving. Once you put your faith in him, you must back him 100%. He has done well in Tests and ODIs,” the former India captain and chief selector told TOI during a brief visit to Goa.
Kohli will continue to be under the scanner especially with the World Cup round the corner. As always, India are being counted among the favourites, but Vengsarkar, who was the first to score three hundreds against England at Lord’s, isn’t convinced. “India have a chance to reach the last four. We have the best (bowling) attack so far.
If we compare our attack to the previous teams at the World Cup, this is better than ever. That’s why we have hope. When India did badly, it was because of the last 10 overs where we were unable to contain the rival batsmen. Now, with (Jasprit) Bumrah and the others, it’s formidable,” said Vengsarkar. Batting in England is never easy, feels Vengsarkar, particularly if the conditions are overcast and the ball moves around a bit.
Hosts England and Australia are the favourites in his book, but if Indian batsmen come good – leaving aside Kohli and Rohit Sharma – India could live up to the billing. “Virat is in great form. Rohit remains a class act. But you cannot depend on these two batsmen alone. The others must contribute too. If they get out early, there will be pressure on the others. They should be able to sustain the pressure.” Vengsarkar also opined on the contentious No.4 spot.
“There are a lot of them who are good enough. KL Rahul or Ajinkya Rahane are good, then there is Mayank Agarwal who did so well in Australia. I am surprised that he is not around. These three could be good choices but don’t judge anyone based on what they do in the IPL,” he said.
The article first appeared on Times of India.