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Virat Kohli & Co are ready for ICC World Cup 2019 - Zaheer Khan

Zaheer Khan, the 2011 World Cup winning star, declared India are ready to mount a challenge in the 2019 edition to be played in United Kingdom from May 30.

cricket Updated: Jan 27, 2019 21:24 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Virat Kohli,Zaheer Khan,ICC World Cup 2019
Kuldeep Yadav celebrates during the second one day international between India and New Zealand.(AP)

The numbers speak for themselves. With 311 wickets in Tests and 282 in one-dayers, Zaheer Khan was one of the most feared opponents in international cricket. India’s second-most successful Test pacer was incisive with the new ball and equally effective with the old.

However, the one thing he missed in his career was support from the other end. From time to time, there were those who impressed bowling in partnership with him, but for most part Zaheer was the lone ranger.

The difference relentless pressure from both ends can make can be seen in the results the current crop is delivering. Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav are revelling as a formidable unit.

READ: India vs New Zealand: Virat Kohli eyes historic first ahead of 3rd ODI

“When you talk about bowling, you have to have a bowling unit supporting you. In this series (vs Australia) also, you look at the distribution of wickets, all the bowlers have played a part. Looking at the bench strength, you have the likes of Bhuvneshwar and Umesh, it is suggestive of the fact that the depth in the line-up has been a factor in making the bowling unit look very good,” said Zaheer, now on a mission to promote amateur cricket in buildings, mohallas and gullys through his brainchild, the Ferit Cricket Bash.

One name though stands out, Jasprit Bumrah, who has gone from strength to strength to take on Zaheer’s mantle as India’s main weapon in all formats. “It’s great to see Bumrah’s career. The contributing factor has been that he is willing to learn and keeps adding to his armoury. He has a big inswing and now he is backing it up nicely by learning the delivery that goes away. He has a great yorker along with a very good slower one, which makes him really good in the shorter format as well. He has the X-factor in him as well, which is the unorthodox action.”

In his new venture, Zaheer is not looking to find another young fast bowler but provide a platform to non-professional players. “It is predominantly an amateur league where we are looking to give an organised set up for them to get a feel of how cricket is played professionally.”

India ready for World Cup

Zaheer, the 2011 World Cup winning star, declared India are ready to mount a challenge in the 2019 edition to be played in United Kingdom from May 30.

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“At this stage also we can say this team is ready. Most of the players pick themselves, even the spinners - numbers suggest that they are the ones who are changing the momentum in the middle overs and putting pressure on the opponents. The fast bowlers are ticking the boxes by picking early wickets and giving spinners the platform to dominate; then you have the top three batsmen who are so consistent.

“All in all, the consistency and formula of success is also clearly defined. We have bench strength as well.”

Any doubts over MS Dhoni’s form have also eased after his fine show Down Under. “Dhoni is not just bringing his game to the table. Pressure plays a big part at the World Cup and he has vast experience; we can see how active he is behind the wicket as well, sharing inputs with the captain.”

First Published: Jan 27, 2019 21:24 IST

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