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India yet to learn ‘tempo’ of playing Tests in seam-friendly conditions: Kaif

Indian cricket team pacers eclipsing spinners at home against Sri Lanka a good sign, feels Mohammad Kaif but adds that the learning process is still on. Fast bowlers accounted for 30 wickets in the three-Test series, while spinners took 22 wickets.

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Dec 08, 2017 09:32 IST
Abhishek Paul
Abhishek Paul
Hindustan Times, Dharamsala
Indian Cricket Team,Mohammad Kaif,Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team won the three-Test series against Sri Lanka 1-0. (BCCI )

Virat Kohli-led Indian cricket team’s desperation to get some crucial preparation ahead of South Africa tour, in January, was visible with grass-laden pitches at all three venues in the just-concluded Test series against Sri Lanka. (INDIA vs SRI LANKA FULL COVERAGE)

Barring the Eden Gardens strip in Kolkata, however, the Nagpur and Delhi pitches did not produce as much desired effect as the Indian team would have wanted.

The rain-affected drawn Test in Kolkata, where conditions assisted pacers, saw India getting all out for 172 in the first innings while the home bowlers conceded a 122-run lead to Sri Lanka. India went on to draw that Test, and then sealed the series 1-0.

(Read | Why Indian cricket team is living on the edge atop ICC ODI ranking)

Whether India would get such a shot at redemption under pressure in South Africa, where they have never won a Test series, is a debatable issue.

Mohammad Kaif, a veteran of 13 Tests and 125 ODIs, is happy that pacers eclipsed Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja against Sri Lanka but added that the team’s learning process is still on.

“We hardly play on pitches like that (in Kolkata). We don’t know tempo of the game (in such conditions). We always see Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja operating from both ends and winning Tests for India. But now we are going abroad, we will get conditions like that in Kolkata,” Kaif told Hindustan Times.

(Read | BCCI pitches spaced out international calendar for Virat Kohli & Co.)

“I am happy that India are playing in pitches, at home, which assists pacers. In the Kolkata Test, we never took the name of Ashwin and Jadeja, though both of them were in the playing XI. It is good that Kohli wants to challenge his team with pace-friendly conditions.”

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was the ‘Player of the match’ in the Kolkata Test, had also conceded that Indian bowlers were ‘impatient’ in the first innings and conceded the huge lead.

For Kaif, the positive sign is that Indian pacers learnt from their mistakes in the first innings. “Test matches are all about learning from mistakes, and that too in every session. Bhuvneshwar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami could do that, which should be appreciated,” Kaif said.

(Read | Sunil Gavaskar takes a jibe at these Indian cricket team stars for weak fielding)

In a rarity, pacers took more wickets spinners in the Sri Lanka series. The fast bowling quartet Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav accounted for 30 wickets. Spin duo Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja took 22 wickets between them. However, while the spinners played in all three Tests, none of the pacers played in more than two Tests in the series.

‘Ashwin, Jadeja’s role will be lesser overseas’

The confidence that pacers got against Sri Lanka will help in South Africa too, feels Kaif. “In overseas conditions, Ashwin and Jadeja’s role will be lesser. But the current pacers have shown the potential to take 20 wickets. Overseas whenever we have struggled, it’s not because of our batting, we have mostly done well in that department. But it is the bowlers who will win you matches,” Kaif said.

(Read | Virat Kohli moves to second in ICC Test Rankings, Steve Smith retains top spot)

The hero of India’s 2002 NatWest Series win in England added that road for Ashwin and Jadeja will get even tougher.

“In limited overs, the selectors are looking for spinners who can give breakthroughs in the middle overs. I think they are going to persist with Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal in South Africa too,” he said.

Kaif also appreciated the role of Virat Kohli in deciding to go for green pitches against Sri Lanka.

“Virat Kohli wants to be leader. The good thing is that he is not thinking about winning or losing. For him the preparation for South Africa was more important,” he said.

First Published: Dec 08, 2017 09:29 IST