Thursday, August 10, 2017

Mohammed Azharuddin: Virat Kohli-led Team India is very well balanced

Mohammed Azharuddin
Mohammed Azharuddin

At one time, in the late 1990s, Mohammed Azharuddin was considered India's most successful India captain without enjoying success outside the sub-continent. In fact, Azhar's only away series win as captain was achieved in Sri Lanka in 1993-94 when the Ajit Wadekar-coached team won 1-0.

Today, Azhar delights in the fact that India have beaten Sri Lanka on two occasions in the last two years. In the same breath he wants to see Virat Kohli & Co accomplish overseas wins against countries like Australia, South Africa, England and New Zealand.

Good bench strength
"With the confidence earned through series wins like the one in Sri Lanka, the players have been given the impetus to do well against stronger opposition. One big plus point is that there are two good medium pacers in Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav. The bench strength is good too. Ravindra Jadeja is the world's top all-rounder and Ravichandran Ashwin is your No. 1 spinner. This is a very balanced team and I am keen to see more success overseas," said Azhar.

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"The current team's fielding is good — Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane at close-in and men like Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Jadeja in the outfield."

Real professional attitude
The former captain was in no mood to discount the performance against a weak Sri Lankan team. "In fact," he said, "it's a tough job to face a weaker team match after match. You have to maintain your hunger and the present lot have a lot of that. This is the sign of a real professional attitude."

Kohli's 2015 side was the first Indian team to win a series in Sri Lanka since Azhar's team beat them in 1993-94. The then captain at first wondered why this time span was so wide. He then said that India did not have enough firepower in the bowling to blow away the likes of Arjuna Ranatunga, Aravinda de Silva, Asanka Gurusinghe and Sanath Jayasuriya. "I am not taking away anything from this Indian team, but we faced a tougher Sri Lankan side in previous years. Of course, we beat them at home," he said, referring to the big win in the one-off Test at Chandigarh in 1990 and the 3-0 win in 1994.

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