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India good enough to field two teams in the ICC U-19 World Cup: Mohammed Azharuddin

Former Indian cricket team captain Mohammed Azharuddin was full of praise for the Indian U-19 cricket team after they defeated Pakistan in the semi-finals of the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup.

cricket Updated: Jan 30, 2018 18:54 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
ICC U-19 World Cup,Mohammed Azharuddin,Indian cricket team
India's Shubman Gill (L) celebrates catching Pakistan's Hassan Khan with teammate Shivam Mavi during the ICC U19 World Cup semi-final between India and Pakistan at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on January 30, 2018. (AFP)

Such is the strength in depth of India’s U-19 squad that Mohammed Azharuddin said they could field two teams. (IND v PAK full scorecard, highlights)

“They have done really well so far and I hope they make India proud in the final. To have got opponents out for 69 in a World Cup semi-final, it speaks volumes of the kind of talent we have. I think they are good enough to make another India team,” said the former India captain here on Tuesday referring to the big win in Christchurch.

“We have won the under-19 World Cup a number of times and Inshallah, I hope they bring the cup back again,” said Azharuddin, on the sidelines of DPS North Kolkata’s annual sports day where he was the chief guest.

That some of these teenagers were picked up for eight-figure sums at the IPL auction last weekend augurs well for them, he said. If they are given the right conditions, India could well get the next generation’s Jaspreet Bumrah and Hardik Pandya, said the man who rates Kolkata’s Eden Gardens as his favourite cricket ground.

When the conversation shifted to the India seniors, Azharuddin felt India were unlucky to have lost the Test series 1-2 to South Africa and rated Virat Kohli’s men as favourites for the one-dayers.

“We have a good side and we should be able to beat them. We have a good bowling unit and hopefully for the one-dayers we will get wickets that favour batsmen a little more. So I am hoping our batsmen will click,” he said.

Kolkata: Former Indian cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin plays a shot during the inauguration of a school sports event, at Salt Lake City in Kolkata on Tuesday. (PTI)

Azharuddin couldn’t praise India’s bowlers enough for their show in South Africa. “I think we must complement the bowlers. If we get wickets like this (the kind India got in South Africa), we will be a handful for any opposition. We have proved that on such surfaces we can bowl the opposition out and we have proved that in this series.”

For him, the victory at Wanderers was one of the best India have ever achieved abroad. “On a very tough wicket, we played like a No. 1 team. It was good to regain some prestige and I think the bowlers need to be praised for the job they did. They really put the South Africa batsmen under pressure,” said Azharuddin.

Azharuddin felt India were a “wee bit unlucky” that the series didn’t go their way. But ‘like everybody in India’ he felt Ajinkya Rahane and Bhuvneshwar Kumar should not have been dropped during the series.

“Sure, they could have played a different team but then the captain and the team thought differently. Outside the team and everybody in India felt Ajinkya and Bhuvi should have played. But every captain has his say,” he said, adding that there is nothing unusual about the kind of sway Virat Kohli has on the team now.

First Published: Jan 30, 2018 16:49 IST