India’s selection committee chairman, Kris Srikkanth, talks to HT ahead of the big series against South Africa next week.
It’s good to see Zaheer in form on what’s been a batting wicket?
It’s been really good. It’s very, very important for us that our best bowlers are in form and rhythm ahead of facing South Africa and Zaheer has been our strike bowler for the last couple of years. He has had some major fitness problems, but has got himself back in shape and shaped up very well.
Is the lack of spinning options a worry?
(Pauses) Spinning options… well, we at least have variety and whoever’s come in has delivered. It’s a good thing that we don’t depend on spin now. But we have a good bunch of pacemen and honestly, as long as the combination works, it’s not a worry. We’re consistently combining well (pace and spin) and that’s what matters.
One criticism of India is that they let the opposition get away, like when Tamim Iqbal and Junaid Siddique were batting on Tuesday.
Sometimes you have to give credit to the opposition. Tamim batted very well. We have to accept that every now and then, there is going to be resistance from the opposition. As long as we’re able to finish it, we are doing okay.
Injuries are a serious issue ahead of taking on a strong South Africa unit.
Yes, injuries are a big problem and a major cause for concern. I’ll know more about who exactly is available when I get to the meeting (in Mumbai on Thursday), but the good thing is that our bench strength has been slowly rising. Whether they are fresh faces or known reserves, they have been able to step in and deliver consistently. That’s been a big plus for us.
But will someone be able to step in for say, a Rahul Dravid?
A guy like Rahul Dravid or a Tendulkar is an all-time great, so no, it’s not easy to replace good cricketers. Till such time that Rahul regains fitness, we have some choices and it’s always good to have a situation where people are fighting for places through the domestic circuit. What we’ll look for is someone who can step in and do reasonably well as a standby.
Now, this has to be asked. Is Dhoni’s fitness a worry — especially with his on-off back issues?
I don’t know, I can’t really comment on that. After all, when you’re playing so much cricket, everyone’s bound to develop some niggles. But it’s something he’ll (Dhoni) have to take a call on himself and find out what kind of rest he needs. Take someone like Zaheer. He decided he needed a break, took it and came back fitter and stronger. Sehwag went through a break. But it has to be a decision made by a player himself. It’s up to what’s in a player’s mind and his individual choice.
Traditionally, there’s no vice-captain for an India series. But are we looking at grooming someone young with a long-term view?
No, not at the moment. Sehwag has done a very good job for us whenever he’s been called upon to step in (for Dhoni). He’s captained well, so we’re going to continue with that for now.