India vs West Indies 2018: Ashwin & Jadeja remain biggest threat for WI - Mohammad Kaif
Former India cricketer Mohammad Kaif feels that the presence of skipper Virat Kohli will act as a big boost for the side in the forthcoming Test series against West Indies, but it will be the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja who will provide the biggest threat for the visiting team in the two-match series.
Ashwin and Jadeja didn’t feature together in even a single match in India’s last series in the pace-friendly conditions of England but the duo are all-set to start their first match together in the Rajkot Test against West Indies. In an exclusive interview to Hindustan Times, Kaif said that the visitors must be wary of the duo, who have been unplayable at times in the subcontinent.
“It is going to be very difficult for West Indies because India are a very strong team at home. Virat Kohli is also back to lead them. But in my opinion, the biggest match-winners in the series will be Ashwin and Jadeja. Kuldeep Yadav is also there but I think Ashwin and Jadeja will be the biggest threat for the visiting team,” Kaif told Hindustan Times.
Indian team-management has once again changed the squad around for the West Indies series and Kaif said that the notion of ‘horses for courses’ might not work for everyone as every player is different. Under the leadership of Kohli, India played the same XI after 39 matches in the fourth Test against England in Southampton last month and Kaif feels that this can hamper a player’s rhythm.
“The current Indian set-up believes in the notion of ‘horse for courses’. Virat Kohli is a different player and he has scored runs in India and in overseas conditions. However, every player in not like Kohli. A player might feel that if he is doing well then he should play consistently. And then there are players who feel that if they take a break then they will be able to do a better job on their return,” Kaif said.
“But we have to identify such players who need a break and the players who want to play on a regular basis. The team management must identify who are such ‘horses for courses’ players. Some players might not be comfortable with this notion altogether,” he added.
Kaif was also critical of India’s slip fielding during the England series and he said that specialists are needed in that particular position. Kaif said that India’s poor catching in the slip cordon can only be eradicated if few players are identified and asked to do the job on a consistent basis.
“Slip cordon is a position for specialists but I have noticed that personnels change very frequently —sometimes Virat Kohli is there, then you will find Shikhar Dhawan and sometimes Ajinkya Rahane as well. In my opinion, Rahane and KL Rahul should be present in the slips as they are one of the more secure fielders when it comes to catching the ball. Only specialists are made to open the innings so in the same way, specialists must be asked to field in the slips,” said the former India middle-order batsman.
“In Tests, maximum number of catches come towards the slip cordon and therefore, we must identify who is our best bet and should stick to them. I feel that people don’t spend many hours in training sessions honing their catching skills. Patience is also the key when it comes to slip fielding. In my opinion,we should catch 100 percent of chances that come towards the slip region,” he signed off.