The Telegraph
Sunday , March 16 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

‘India stronger with Dhoni, Yuvraj & Raina’s return’

- Waqar ranks Steyn higher than Johnson

Calcutta: Waqar Younis feels the return of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina will give India an edge in the World T20, in Bangladesh.

While Dhoni missed the Asia Cup, India’s last assignment, because of injury, Yuvraj and Raina were dropped from the team.

The former Pakistan captain, however, didn’t wish to pick any favourites for the tournament. “It’s very difficult and it’s too early to answer,” he said on Saturday.

India’s first match is against Pakistan and Waqar hopes the contest will be interesting. “It will be a very close game. Both are good T20 sides… India are stronger, especially with Dhoni, Yuvraj and Raina coming back into the side… These guys are very good, they are T20 specialists….

“Pakistan, of course, need (Shahid) Afridi to be fit and back in the team and doing well… Pakistan have done well in the Asia Cup and it should be a good contest,” said the pace legend.

Waqar is in the city as part of the Cricket Association of Bengal’s Vision 2020 project and was all praise for Sourav Ganguly.

“Sourav has always been a very competitive cricketer. We all know about it… It’s a good combination and, hopefully, we can put our aggression and positivity in the boys and make sure they deliver in the future.

“Sourav was an excellent captain. He’s probably the one who changed the outlook of the Indian team… He’s the one who brought aggression into the side… I still remember playing against Kapil Dev and others… But Sourav changed the mindset of the team. He’s a wonderful cricketer and human being … A great competitor,” said Waqar.

The legendary pace bowler has no hesitation in picking Dale Steyn ahead of Mitchell Johnson.

“Both are fine bowlers. Mitch has just found his rhythm in the last few months. Steyn has been outstanding, for say, the last 10 years. For me, Steyn is definitely the No. 1 bowler. I’ve regarded him one of the best in the world.

“Even in South Africa, I don’t think they have produced anybody like Steyn in the past. I don’t think you can compare them. I think Steyn is far better, but at the moment, of course Mitch has got his rhythm going for him,” said Waqar.

He felt the slow tracks in the subcontinent were not an obstacle to producing fast bowlers. “Overall, the tracks in the subcontinent are slow. We don’t have fast tracks in this part of the world. But we have produced some good fast bowlers in the past, especially in Pakistan. We have been lucky to have some good fast bowlers. Fast bowling is not only about the pitch, it’s about the attitude. It’s about how hungry you are.

“We will look for the boys who’re hungry, how far they want to go, how much they want to put in (during the Vision 2020 project). Fast bowling is not an easy art. It takes a lot out of you, the attitude is more important than anything else. The pitch does not matter.

“If you look at my entire career, I’ve hardly looked at the pitch. I believed I could do well on any sort of track. That mindset is the key more than anything else… If you look at Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India, we are doing well in the world cricket. Tracks really don’t matter much,” he explained.

Waqar, who lost out to Moin Khan in the running for Pakistan coach, said he wasn’t aware of any promise being made by the Pakistan Cricket Board.

“The PCB has not promised me anything… I’ve come here with an open mind. I’m here to give my best… As far as the PCB is concerned, nothing has been promised, and I don’t think one should worry about that.”