Hyderabad: Mohammad Azharuddin feels that India deserve to be ranked as number one both in Test and one-day cricket. Elated with India’s convincing 4-1 win in the one-day series against the visiting Australian team, the former stylish batsman said the team worked hard for the success.
“It is nice to see India as number one in both Test and one-day cricket. They have to continue with their good work. They should not be complacent. However, what I feel happy is that young players are keen to do well. That is the big plus point,’’ said the former Indian captain while talking to Telangana Today.
Azharuddin said it was a very tough series for Australia because they were unable to play spin bowling. “There were only one or two batsmen who could play spin under Indian conditions. The Australians relied too much on David Warner and Steve Smith. I think there was a lack of application and there were poor shot selections from other Australian batsmen. Even in the first two matches, they looked good and could have won but India held their nerves beautifully. I think bowlers like (Jasprit) Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar came to the party with clever pace bowling, particularly in death-bowling.‘’
The former Indian captain was all praise for Virat Kohli. “He is doing very well as a captain and a batsman. He is a top class batsman. You cannot ask more from him. He has led by example and his record, both in captaincy and batting, is perfect.’’
Azharuddin was pretty impressed with Rohit Sharma’s batting exploits. “I always rated Rohit Sharma very highly. He hits the ball cleanly and looks consistent.’’
At the same time someone like Hardik Pandya, who won the man of the series award, too came into limelight and Azharuddin said it is good for Indian cricket. “He is turning out to be a handy all-rounder. He is someone who can bat and bowl effectively. He can whack the ball hard and has been good with his medium pace bowling. He can be better and better if he keeps his focus. I would not like him to be compared with Kapil Dev. Gavaskar and Kapil Dev are always exceptional players.’’
Azharuddin, who was a brilliant fielder in his hey days, was happy the present Indian team has a very good set of fielders. “What I like is that they attack the ball. Fielding always plays a big part in any team’s success. It is good that Indians are enjoying their fielding.’’
He also pointed out that the Indian bowlers did a splendid job even without (Ravichandran) Ashwin and (Ravindra) Jadeja. “It is a good sign as we have a good pool strength.’’
Azharuddin said that the wrist spinners are always match winners. “I think Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav were exceptional. The Australian batsmen had no clue against these two wrist spinners. It is like when Lanka’s Ajanta Mendis came to scene. It was very difficult to pick his bowling, particularly with his type of action. But once the batsmen read his bowling, Mendis could not be as effective as he was in the start of his career. So it is important for someone like Kuldeep, to be consistent. He should keep learning new tricks and variations. He should not be like South Africa’s Paul Adams, who played for a short while.’’
Azhar asserted that off spinner Ashwin is still the top bowler of the country. “I don’t know why he was dropped. It is not difficult for him to make a comeback. He is a champion bowler.’’
The former Indian captain said the real challenge will come when they play South Africa in South Africa.” It is always challenging to play in South Africa as the conditions are different there. They have a few good fast bowlers. But at the same time, India too have a good set of fast bowlers who can make use of the conditions. We have very good bowling attack who can pose a problem or two to the South African batsman. The important thing is we have also good spinners. We have got the best balanced attack in the world.’’
Azharuddin felt that the Indian batting, too, can come good in South Africa. “Batsmen like Kohli, (Ajinkya) Rahane, (Cheteshwara) Pujara and others have the ability and skills to score runs on bouncy wickets. It is all about good preparation before they embark on the tour. I’m very optimistic of a good result as we have a good all-round team.’’