Former Indian skipper, Anil Kumble feels that Virat Kohli and his men would’ve been unaffected by the ODI series loss to Australia as it heads into the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, where he feels the men in blue remain a “strong contender”. Despite having a 2-0 lead in the series, India lost three successive ODIs to lose the series in what was their final international assignment before the World Cup.
According to Kumble, even if India had beaten Australia the result should not have been valued that much as the preparations of the upcoming World Cup was the focus of the team.
As per the recent quotes in CricketNext, former Indian coach said, “I don’t think you can consider this series win or a loss in context to the World Cup because the World Cup is a totally different kettle of fish. This time the format is such where you play everyone and you get enough matches to get into the groove. So, I don’t want to read too much into what happened in the recent series against Australia. But there are some questions that need to be answered, which I’m sure the team would be confident about. I don’t see too many reasons for us to worry too much about the World Cup.”
Currently, the Indian team is standing at the 2nd position in ICC ODI rankings and before the Australia series, they had last lost a home series in 2015. Since then, their only ODI series loss had been in England last summer when they were beaten 1-2.
While Kumble feels the team may be in denial about its middle-order batting problems, he backed the team for the World Cup.
The veteran spinner said, “India will still remain a strong contender in the World Cup because the format is such where you have enough matches for you to get your team going. I think the team is capable of winning the World Cup and this team certainly has all the credentials.”
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The No 4 spot has been a problem for several years, which Kumble felt should be occupied by Dhoni.
Former Indian skipper said, “For me, I still believe MS Dhoni should bat at 4. [Numbers] 5, 6 and 7 is something that you need to start thinking about and that’s where I felt that there was too much chopping, changing and trying to figure out who will fit in into that 4, 5 or 6 in that middle order other than MS Dhoni. That to me has made it a little more unsettling for us, watching from outside.”
Kumble, India’s most successful wicket-taker in Tests, also wondered whether the team management had assessed their World Cup combinations properly. India’s current coach Ravi Shastri has spoken about the option of getting Kohli to bat at No 4 – a spot he’s only been used at once since 2015 – but Kumble did not agree.
Expressing his thoughts on Kohli at no.4, Kumble said, “Virat is so good a player that he can bat anywhere in the batting order … 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, wherever you want him to bat. But I think, ideally you’d want the top three to be finishing things off and that’s what’s been successful over the last couple of years for India. I’m keen that someone like MS Dhoni bats at four and manages the middle order, rather than coming in where he has to not just manage the middle order but also keep up with the run chase, that’s something I would want to see.”