Kolkata: The number of interesting options at the disposal of Virat Kohli-Ravi Shastri combine, not to speak of the healthy trend of everyone putting their hands up, makes India the team to beat in the upcoming World Test Championship final as well as the five-Test series against England, according to Woorkeri Raman - the former Indian opener who has worn many a hat in his career.
Raman, regarded as one of the shrewdest cricketing brains whose last assignment was as the head coach of Indian women’s team, feels that the multiple choices before India gives them bit of an edge against New Zealand in what could be ‘‘an interesting clash of cricketing cultures’’ in the WTC final which starts in Southampton on Friday. ‘‘Yes, New Zealand have a good chance, they are a team which has done well in all formats. The advantage for India is that they have a lot of options while the Kiwis have made the best use of their limited resources. It’s going to be a battle of contrasting styles,’’ he said.
Speaking to Gulf News during an exclusive interview over phone, Raman refused to read much into the apparent lack of match practice for Kohli & Co before a world championship game. ‘‘
There used to a time when we played quite a few practice matches but the current FTP hardly allows for it. New Zeland have played a two-Test series and won it, but these Indian boys have fought all the odds in recent times and it’s a completely different team from the ones which have toured England before.
‘‘The best thing about them is they do not depend on a single guy to bail them out. Everybody had been performing and sometimes, they have exceeded expectations - look at the way Washington Sundar or Ravi Ashwin have played valuable knocks. (Hanuma) Vihari battled an injury and took India to safety in Australia. To me, what matters most in international cricket is the mindset and this is an area where the boys score very highly,’’ said Raman, who had been the coach of Under-19 Indian team when a certain Virat Kohli was made the captain in 2008.
MORE ON WTC FINAL
Another area of concern for the Indian squad had been if they would miss a seaming allrounder like Hardik Pandya, who didn’t make the cut as the team management could not risk him bowling his quota of overs as the fifth bowler in a Test match. Raman, however, begged to differ in the way he looked at the allrounders in the current set-up: ‘‘ To me, Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Rishabh Pant are allrounders. They can bat as well as anybody and have got runs in international cricket. India can go in with a 3-2 combination with three pacers and the two spinners. The other advantage is that if the spinners get in enough overs, it can help to get the ball scruffed up for reverse swing. Then if Shami and Ishant are playing, they can hang around a bit with the bat.
The combination of Broad or Anderson are at the evening of the career and couldn’t get much fizz off the pitch when they bowled together, like say 2013-14. Their bowlers need help of the conditions and if it doesn’t favour them, Indian batters will cope well
‘‘Ultimately, you want to bowl the opposition out and you need five bowlers for that. Don’t tell me you are expecting all your 11 batsmen to score centuries,’’ he said with a wry smile.
Will the five-Test series against England, which gets underway after a big gap of six weeks, offer India a chance to conquer their ‘Last Frontier?’ Raman sounded an optimistic note:
‘‘Yes, I feel this not because of the way England have been playing in recent times but this Indian team is a battle-hardened one. England bank a lot on their medium pacers - the combination of Broad or Anderson are at the evening of the career and couldn’t get much fizz off the pitch when they bowl together, like say 2013-14. Their bowlers need help of the conditions and if it doesn’t favour them, Indian batters will cope well,’’ he added.