There is a lot of speculation concerning India’s team combination in the forthcoming five-Test series against England, starting on August 1 at Edgbaston. Considering the heatwave in England this summer, former India pacer Zaheer Khan sees no harm in playing two specialist spinners.
"Yes, if conditions are hot, it may be difficult for fast bowlers but then you always have the option to play two specialist spinners. If the conditions remain like that, they (Indian team management) might be tempted to play two spinners," Zaheer quoted as saying by PTI.
India wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav turned out to be the nemesis for England batsmen during the recently concluded limited-overs series. While Kuldeep picked up a five-wicket haul (5/24) in the opening T20I at Old Trafford to script India’s thumping 8-wicket win, he returned with 9 wickets in the following 3 ODIs.
When asked if too much pressure is being put on the chinaman bowler, Zaheer said: "Why shouldn't there be expectations? The expectations have grown since he has done well at the international level. When you do well, it is bound to happen and he (Kuldeep) will have to handle that."
Earlier this year, Team India had a sensational tour of South Africa. After being 2-0 down in the Test series, Virat Kohli and company bounced back emphatically to register a historic 63-run victory in the third and final Test at Wanderers. From then on, India’s winning juggernaut didn’t stop as they secured both the limited-overs series with utmost ease. While the Men in Blue clinched the six-match one-day international series with a stunning margin of 5-1, they won the three-match ODI series 2-1.
No wonder, Zaheer believes that the current crop of Indian cricketers have it in them to rewrite the history books in England this time around.
"Everyone is saying that this will be the 'Indian Summer' in UK. I am also expecting India to dominate. But we have to keep in mind that this is a five-Test series. Five-Test series can be very challenging. You need to show a lot of consistency. But what gives me hope is the manner in which they played in South Africa,” Khan remarked.
"Yes, they lost the Test series (1-2) but the way the fought back in the final Test was impressive. The energy and approach they showed gives me a lot of hope," he added.
India will be returning to the UK in less than a year to play the ICC World Cup and in Zaheer's opinion, Jasprit Bumrah will be key to India's chances.
"I guess we will be playing another 25 ODIs before we get into the next year's World Cup. So there are two aspects that they need to look into. They have to get their middle order combination right. I believe there are enough matches to set it right. Also make sure that Jasprit Bumrah remains fit for the World Cup as he will hold the key," he asserted.
Lately, there has been a huge hype surrounding around the Yo-Yo endurance test – a mandatory parameter set by the Indian team management for a place in the national side. The recent instances of players failing the test and subsequently getting snubbed from the team have only proved how serious the Indian team management and BCCI are about fitness.
Zaheer also shared his views on the Yo-Yo fitness test, stating: "What I know is that the parameter set by the current Indian team (16.1) is pretty low compared to the world standard. If a player is not even able to achieve that mark, then I believe there is some problem somewhere."
"Look, for me any parameter is acceptable as long as it is uniformly applied. If the criteria is same for the top most and the junior most cricketer, I have no issues. Obviously, there is focus on skill but this Indian team wants to be a fit unit. Virat and the team management is trying to ensure that for the benefit of the team," he concluded.