Ahead of the first Test between India and West Indies at Rajkot, Mohammad Kaif has said that the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will be the biggest threat for the visitors in the two-match series.
Ashwin and Jadeja have been the chief architects of India’s Test series victories at home in the last five years. With Hardik Pandya not available in the squad due to injury, wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav is also a certainty in the playing XI.
“It is going to be very difficult for West Indies because India are a very strong team at home. Virat Kohli is also back to lead them. But in my opinion, the biggest match-winners in the series will be Ashwin and Jadeja. Kuldeep Yadav is also there but I think Ashwin and Jadeja will be the biggest threat for the visiting team,” Kaif quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
In his 39 Tests as a captain, Kohli has gone with the unchanged playing XI only once. And Kaif feels the constant chopping and changing can create a room of self-doubt among the team members.
“The current Indian set-up believes in the notion of ‘horse for courses’. Virat Kohli is a different player and he has scored runs in India and in overseas conditions. However, every player in not like Kohli. A player might feel that if he is doing well then he should play consistently. And then there are players who feel that if they take a break then they will be able to do a better job on their return,” Kaif opined.
“But we have to identify such players i.e the players who need a break and the players who want to play on a regular basis. The team management must identify who are such ‘horses for courses’ players. Some players might not be comfortable with this notion altogether,” he added.
Kaif, who is considered as one of the best fielders ever, was also critical of India’s slip fielding during the England series. He suggested the team management to put specialists in the slip cordon to eradicate this issue.
“Slip cordon is a position for specialists but I have noticed that personnels change very frequently —sometimes Virat Kohli is there, then you will find Shikhar Dhawan and sometimes Ajinkya Rahane as well. In my opinion, Rahane and KL Rahul should be present in the slips as they are one of the more secure fielders when it comes to catching the ball. Only specialists are made to open the innings so in the same way, specialists must be asked to field in the slips,” Kaif remarked.
“In Tests, maximum number of catches come towards the slip cordon and therefore, we must identify who is our best bet and should stick to them. I feel that people don’t spend many hours in training sessions honing their catching skills. Patience is also the key when it comes to slip fielding. In my opinion,we should catch 100 percent of chances that come towards the slip region,” he concluded.