Kapil Dev, the former pacer all-rounder and captain, said that India versus Australia four-match Test series is no longer about the bowlers being able to take 20 wickets but whether the batsmen can stand up to Australia’s pacers who will be thirsting to make amends for the defeat in 2018-19.
India’s build-up to the tour has been about the impact of skipper Virat Kohli’s absence as he will fly home after the first Test for the birth of his first child. He was instrumental both as captain and with the bat in India’s historic maiden 2-1 series win in 2018-19.
Kapil Dev: Pacers Will Go For Higher Value Than Batsmen
The other talking point is the return of Steve Smith and David Warner, who missed the last series due to one year ban for alleged ball-tampering, as well as the rise of Australia’s newest batting sensation, Marnus Labuschagne.
But Kapil Dev, 1983 World Cup-winning skipper, said the Indian batsmen have to deliver as he is unsure whether they can score 400 runs or more in one innings against the formidable pace attack consisting of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.
“Let me put it differently. Looking at our pace attack, it will be about the batsmen. We’re not sure our batsmen will score 400 runs (in an innings). If our batsmen don’t struggle, we won’t have any problem,” he said during an interaction at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2020, where he was in conversation with senior journalist Ayaz Memon.
Kapil Dev, a pioneer and reputed as a genuine quick bowler for India, praised IPL’s role in the development of fast bowlers like Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah.
“When Brian Lara recently said ‘I don’t mind facing Kapil, Srinath or Zaheer but I won’t like to play Bumrah… as a bowler, I will say, I have no word to express my happiness. Fast bowlers will go for higher value than batsmen.”
Kapil Dev had no leadership concerns since vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane will take over when Virat Kohli heads home and said the skipper’s decision was a welcome change.
“I don’t think we could afford (leaving a tour midway). I feel happy today’s sportsmen can do that. The biggest passion is having a baby.”
Kapil Dev though said that split captaincy was not suited to the Indian culture and temperament, as a debate is on about whether Rohit Sharma should be handed the T20I and ODI captaincy from Virat Kohli.
“I’d like to see the culture. If Virat plays T20, keep him as captain. England, Australia, South Africa… the mindset, culture is different. Here, it’s going to bring out differences over which captain players should follow.
“If Virat can’t play T20, I can understand. I’m so happy today we have another person who can do as good a job as captain,” he maintained.
The former Test bowling world record holder expressed concerns for players competing in a bio-bubble and playing in front of empty stadiums.
“It is very difficult for the players. I understand today it (career) is a 10-year package, most maximum will play for that long,” he said.
While the IPL has made fast bowling rewarding for youngsters, Kapil Dev was concerned that some bowlers focus more on variations like cross-seam and slow bouncers before mastering the basics like bowling with a straight wrist and getting the ball to swing both ways.
“This IPL, they realized swing is more important than pace. Even Sandeep Sharma (Sunrisers Hyderabad), he bowled 120 kph, but was more difficult to face because he was swinging.
“They are running away from the art. That is why Natarajan (SRH left-arm seamer) was my hero. Yorker. That is the best ball, you can say not today, tomorrow, even in 100 years. And the outgoing ball,” he stated.
Thangarasu Natarajan established himself as a yorker specialist and has been selected for the T20Is in Australia.
Referring to the challenge of playing the pink-ball Test in Adelaide, Dev, who was renowned for his out-swingers, said: “Whenever the ball moves, it becomes interesting. The learning of swing bowling should come back.”
The rise of Jasprit Bumrah who debuted in 2018 in tests led to the formation of one of the world’s finest pace attacks, along with Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami.
Kapil Dev Loves Watching Virat Kohli And Kane Williamson Bat
The 131-Test veteran said IPL should make sure the longest format survives.
“In tennis, we still have Wimbledon on grass… Let’s keep up the momentum for Tests also, (acknowledge) how a Dravid, Gavaskar built their innings.”
Kapil Dev picked Virat Kohli and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson among the batsmen he most loves to watch. However, he said both Virat Kohli and Australian Steve Smith must take their gradual dip in eyesight into consideration as eyesight must be adjusted accordingly to increasing age.
“Smith and Virat, they are on the same boat… at an age where eyesight starts to drop. Both like to play on the legside, and both can be lbw candidates. We used to say from 28 to 34 (age) is the best period, but you have to adjust (for) eyesight. Joe Root and Williamson look more compact in that because they don’t play so much across,” he added.
“Bumrah, he is not an Indian bowler, I say. But when he has to bowl 20 overs a day for 3-4-5 Tests, he puts so much pressure on his body, bowling from such a short run-up, so I hope he survives,” Kapil Dev concluded.
Jasprit Bumrah has featured in 12 Tests, 58 ODIs and 49 T20Is where he has 62, 104 and 59 wickets averaging 20.63, 25.88 and 20.11 which is extraordinary for a first bowler. Besides in recently concluded IPL 2020, he was 2nd maximum wicket-taker with 27 wickets averaging 14.96.