Former Indian premier fast bowler Zaheer Khan hopes  that Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma’s form will play a key role to India’ title defense as they get ready to face arch-rivals Pakistan in the ICC Cricket World Cup on 15th of this month.

He told PTI-Bhasha on Friday, “Rohit and Virat’s form will be crucial to India’s World Cup chances. Rohit will opening the innings with Virat coming at either Number 3 or 4 depending on match situation. Both have the ability to bat through the innings or even play the role of sheer anchor necessary in such a tournament,”

Zaheer didn’t give any weightage to the tri-series performance where India lost three out of four matches. Zaheer said, “World Cup is a new tournament and I don’t think India’s performance in tri series will affect them. They have also got a long break after that and if you see the format also, I am sure India will play semi final. World Cup is a long tournament and injuries play a crucial role. It’s good to have a settled team and gain the momentum at right time. Australia and New Zealand are also top contenders as they have home advantage on fast pitches. South Africa is also playing well consistently so I think these four teams can reach in last four”.

He has not bothered about the hue and cry about Indian pacers’ form and fitness and said, “Injuries are part and parcel of the game but you have to find the right combination. It’s not about bowling only. Cricket is a team game and batsmen also have to give their best. I am hopeful that team India will deliver all round performance”.

Zaheer Khan has got a very rich experience in international cricket and as a lead bowler he has taken 311 wickets from 92 Tests and 282 wickets in 200 ODIs.

Giving reply to a query about his tips for Dhoni and team, he said that Mohammed Shami should start with the new ball. He clarified, “If you ask my suggestion, they should give the new ball to Shami, who will set the tone. First spell will be very crucial. I will only say that taking wickets is the only key to restrict run-rates. We have been playing with the new rules for a while now. As far as death overs are concerned, the bowlers have got to have clear thinking. I am sure they will do well”.

He also hoped that despite their poor show, the exposure gained during long Australia tour can give India an added advantage. He said, “Indian team had a long Australia tour and played at almost every venue. This can work to their advantage.”

Regarding Dhoni’s decision to have a short trekking and fishing trip at the Adelaide, Zaheer described, “We have been doing things like this in the past as well to unwind and start afresh.”

On his comeback schedule, he said that he is ready to go but will start with the shorter format. “I am good to start but I would like to start with shorter version, may be T20,” he said.

Clarifying why he is not playing Ranji matches in this season, he said that he is not yet ready to bowl 35- 40 overs. “As I said that I am fit but want to start with shorter format. I decided to stay away with Ranji matches as the 35 -40 overs workload was too high to start with,” he concluded.


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