The Telegraph
Thursday , July 24 , 2014
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Mushtaq: India have a young team out to make its identity

- ‘I’d tell captain Dhoni to play Ashwin’
Mushtaq Mohammed

London: Mushtaq ‘Mushy’ Mohammed, a former captain of Pakistan, spoke to The Telegraph from Birmingham on Wednesday afternoon.

Mushtaq has been in Birmingham for over three decades.


Q How much of the Lord’s Test did you watch?

A Because of the fasting, I’m at home for much of the day and, so, watched quite a bit of the Test. I saw the highlights as well.

Your take on India’s 95-run win?

I’d like to congratulate India... Coming from the subcontinent, I have a soft corner for all teams from that region. India should get high marks, but England gave the Test away on a platter.

The batsmen were reckless...

Of course, England fell into the trap laid by India in the post-lunch session on the final day... We saw irresponsible shots after India’s strategy changed from bowling line and length to letting go short-pitched deliveries... If you can’t win a Test, at least save it. England made no effort towards forcing a draw. Credit to India’s captain, (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni, though.

But did you even remotely think of such a result when India were inserted on a greentop?

No, but the Test turned in the very first innings, when India fought back from 145 for seven to reach 295. That’s resilience.

Has India’s win busted the myth that teams from the subcontinent get psyched out on a green wicket?

That long-held view should change.

Significance of the win for India...

Something like this was needed to move out of the shadow of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman... India have a young team which is out to make its identity. Lord’s has given a start. Aage aap dekhiye.

Who’re the India players who stood out?

AJINKYA RAHANE: Showed excellent patience and is so good with his shot selection. Thoroughly deserved a hundred at Lord’s.

MURALI VIJAY: Is a solid opener, who knows where his off-stump is. I felt sorry for him when he got out for 95 in the second innings.

BHUVNESHWAR KUMAR: A superb swing bowler who bowls within his limitations. He knows he’s not fast, so doesn’t pretend to be a quick bowler. But while he’s not fast, he is quick enough to beat the bat. His batting is a bonus.

ISHANT SHARMA: What a spell on the final afternoon! He bowled to Dhoni’s plan. Because he’s tall, he’s the only one who could have implemented the plan. He did so with conviction.

Would you have given the MoM award jointly to Ishant and Rahane?

No, because bowlers win matches.

Some words on Dhoni’s captaincy...

Dhoni deserves kudos for making Ishant bowl the way he did... Hats off to him. Dhoni’s a confident captain and backs his instincts... Is capable of taking risks... However, Dhoni missed a trick in not getting Ravindra Jadeja to bowl more into the rough.

India are 1-0 ahead, but who will win the five-Test series?

I wish I knew... India will have the advantage if they score around 450 in their first innings. They need to play Ravichandran Ashwin in place of Stuart Binny. India have had a great win at Lord’s, but the team isn’t balanced.

Should Alastair Cook have stepped down as England’s captain?

But who is the obvious replacement? Can’t be Ian Bell or Stuart Broad... Cook’s out of form, but such is his class that he could quickly regain it. He doesn’t seem short on determination.

Your advice to Dhoni and Cook?

I’d tell Dhoni to play Ashwin and look to keep the momentum going... I’d tell Cook to back himself and not be weighed down by the tonne of bricks regularly falling on him.

The last one... Are you disappointed at the way India and England handled the James Anderson-Jadeja flare-up in the first Test (Trent Bridge)?

Sledging is the root of all evil and some teams use it as a tactic to unsettle the opposition. It’s a shame... Whatever happened between the two started with on-field exchanges... Yes, the team managements ought to have thrashed it out and then made the guilty player apologise.