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Consistency and bench strength augur well for Indian cricket: Dilip Vengsarkar

The former India captain, who also served as the chairman of selectors, spoke on India’s campaign in the World Cup so far

Indranil Majumdar Pune Published 18.10.23, 10:53 AM
Dilip Vengsarkar (extreme right) with Sachin Tendulkar, Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar

Dilip Vengsarkar (extreme right) with Sachin Tendulkar, Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar Sourced by the Telegraph

Dilip Vengsarkar was a member of India’s first-ever World Cup-winning squad under Kapil Dev. The former India captain, who also served as the chairman of selectors, spoke to The Telegraph on Tuesday on India’s campaign in the World Cup so far.



Q: Has India’s performance left you satisfied?

A: I would say they are on the right track. It’s a balanced team and the players seem to have peaked at the right time. Players coming from injuries, like Jasprit Bumrah and KL Rahul, have been stupendous. The bowlers have been performing really well and that has set it up well for the team. Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj have been the livewires upfront and that has made the task of the others easier. Look at Hardik Pandya... He has been working up a good pace and is bowling really well... Being rewarded for his hard work. His batting is also helping the team in the middle-order.

Q: How would you rate this team when compared to the World Cup-winning squads of 1983 and 2011?

A: We were never considered the favourites... No one thought we could make the final or even the semi-finals... But this team is among the favourites to win the trophy much like the 2011 squad. That makes a huge difference. At the same time, you also face the pressure of performing in front of your home crowd. But the current team has it in them to go the distance. I’m saying this not because they are doing well but because there’s quality and balance.

Q: But how do you compare this team with 1983 or 2011?

A: I wouldn’t compare teams of different eras. Both 2011 and this current lot are very good. And like I said we were never in the mix. This team has good batters who can excel in this format. Rohit Sharma has been performing well. Look at Rahul, Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill... They can destroy any attack.

Q: Do you think this performance is the result of the team being together for some time?

A: They have been doing well over a period of time. They performed brilliantly in the Asia Cup and the three ODIs against Australia in the lead-up to the tournament. This consistency augurs well for Indian cricket. Also, a team is judged by its bench strength. Look at the players who are sitting on the sidelines... Suryakumar Yadav, Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin are still in the XV. But you also have Ruturaj Gaikwad, Yashasvi Jaiswal and others who can easily make it any day.

Q: Would you then credit good bowling for this success?

A: Both batting and bowling. The bowlers have pulled it off from lost situations. Look at the match versus Pakistan. At 155/2 it seemed like Pakistan would get to 300-plus. But look at the way Siraj, Bumrah and then Kuldeep Yadav pulled it back. Amazing. This is
what champion teams are made of. They don’t consider any situation as lost and can bounce back.

Q: This domination over Pakistan has been unheard of in a while. What do you think?

A: They absolutely outplayed Pakistan. Going forward, it will be a huge morale booster for the team. Not just Pakistan, they have been doing well against all opponents. And in all conditions. That shows the quality of the team.

Q: A word on Rohit’s captaincy...

A: He’s doing well with the bat and that’s a huge thing. When you are in form, it shows in your leadership. But Rohit has always been an inspirational leader. That makes a lot of difference.

Q: Given that the top-order is doing well, should we play a specialist bowler in Mohammed Shami in place of Shardul Thakur?

A: That is for the think-tank to decide. Maybe they still feel a cushion is needed since the lower order is not too adept at batting.

Q: How would you place Rohit vis-a-vis MS Dhoni?

A: I wouldn’t compare. Everybody’s good. Both prefer to lead by performing. Both know the nuances of the game and work hard to bring out the best in the players. We should be happy that things are clicking in the right way at the right time.

Q: Your semi-finalists...

A: India and New Zealand are sure to make it. Any two among Australia, England and South Africa. Afghanistan will be my dark horse. The quality of their spinners will make them tough opponents in these conditions. If Afghanistan can beat England they can spring some more surprises.

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