Former India cricketer Mohammed kaif believes that fast bowler Mohammed Siraj’s performance has been one of the biggest takeaways from the side’s recent 3-0 ODI series triumph over Sri Lanka.
In the first ODI at Guwahati, Siraj picked up two wickets with the new ball, while taking one scalp at Kolkata. But it was in the third ODI at Thiruvananthapuram, where his four wickets with the new ball played a pivotal role in giving India a record 317-run victory. Overall, Siraj finished with nine wickets, the most by a bowler, at an economy of 4.05.
“Three key takeaways would be firstly, I think Mohammed Siraj. Wanting to win the World Cup in India on flat conditions, I think Mohammed Siraj has done so well. If you see the last couple of matches he’s been really bowling well, getting the break through with the new ball.”
“Mohammed Shami is also back but is unable to find a victim with the new ball, on the other hand Mohammed Siraj has done a great job. He has got wickets even when he comes in to bowl towards the end. Overall I think Mohammed Siraj, the two openers and Virat Kohli the way he got his century in the last game and also Kuldeep Yadav the way he bowled in the second ODI,” said Kaif on ‘Follow The Blues’ show on Star Sports.
Kaif also felt India’s new opening combination of captain Rohit Sharma and youngster Shubman Gill complement each other really well. In the three ODIs against Sri Lanka, Rohit made scores of 83, 17 and 42 while Gill registered figures of 70, 21 and 116 respectively.
“I think both the batters got similarities because they like to play on the back foot. The way they play square of the wicket, they like to play pull shots and not so much of foot work but the way they play square of the wicket, the fine leg and through the cover points is fantastic to see. Appealing to the eyes, both the batsmen have got elegance.”
“Both the batsmen have the capability to stay at on pitch batting for a longer time and for that reason it is difficult to bowl against them because if you make even a small mistake these guys will punish you.”
“The way Rohit Sharma has started as a captain, he’s trying to set that tone in the power play, stepping out and playing over point pulling the ball. I think he knows that if India wants to win the World Cup, he should be the one as the aggressor in the power play,” he added.
Asked to point out the positives and negatives from the ODI series, Kaif remarked India did bowl well in the start and needed to improve their bowling in the death overs, especially with no Jasprit Bumrah around.
“They are bowling well with the old ball. They have the bowler who can pick wickets, Mohammed Siraj with the new ball, he’s taking wickets. They got Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav who can take wickets in the middle overs. They have Umran Malik who can get wickets in the middle overs but in the death overs, in the first ODI we seen that in the last 13 overs there was no wicket taken by the Indian bowlers.”
“Shanaka got a 100 that game, although Sri Lanka had lost the game but I think we need to improve on our death bowling. That’s where we are missing Bumrah very much because he is a genuine match winner, a wicket taker. He can bowl yorkers; he can bowl slower balls. I think India needs to improve their death bowling especially in the last 10-12 overs,” he concluded.
The next assignment for India in their home season is three ODIs against top-ranked side New Zealand, starting from Wednesday in Hyderabad, followed by matches in Raipur and Indore.