He is known for his instinct to find out young talents. During his stint as the captain of Team India, many fresh, but promising cricketers established themselves in the national team. Former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin feels Rishabh Pant should improve his ability and skill to keep wickets. In a recent chat with the CrickerSoccer.com, the stylish batsman from Hyderabad, under whom India have won many laurels in the cricketing world, predicts India have a bright chance to win the test series in Australia.

Here are the excerpts:

CricketSoccer (CS): Recently you opined that Rishabh should keep wickets in place of Dinesh Karthik…

Mohammad Azharuddin (MA): Yes of course. Rishabh has talent. I honestly feel Rishabh Pant should keep wickets regularly. When you’re a keeper you got to keep wickets. He is projected as the next big thing in Indian cricket. So he should have a go. To be very honest, DK ( Dinesh Karthik) is not a future prospect. He is in his thirties and hardly will get to play for another 3-4 years. He doesn’t have a long career ahead of him. So you should promote Rishabh. I always believe if you have talent, blood him young.

CS: But you were not impressed by the 21-year old’s glove-work in England…

MA: That is a major reason why Rishabh should keep wickets. Yes, he has flaws and needs to keep wickets on a regular basis to get better. He is a good player. He has done well. The more he keeps wickets, the more he will learn. I think his keeping needs to improve a lot. But one thing for sure, he is such a batsman who can change the momentum of the game any time, single-handedly. He has all types of shots in his kitty. Yes, sometimes he takes a risk, but that is his natural way of playing the game. So let him be what he is and how he is. Only he has to realize the value of his wicket.

CS: What according to you is the difference between captain Virat Kohli and captain Rohit Sharma?

MA: Both are very different leaders. Virat is aggressive and loves to express himself. Rohit, on the other hand, is a cool customer who has shown his leadership skills whenever given a chance. He has proved that he is a good captain. In the Asia Cup also, he did really well. He is improving every day. He is a very cool captain.

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CS: How are you seeing India’s chances in the upcoming test series in Australia?

MA: If Kohli and Co. can bowl and bat well Down Under, they have every chance of winning. India has a good chance in Australia. We have good batsmen and bowlers. If we can combine both together and do well, we have a chance. Most significantly, we have a very potent pace bowling line up this time. Shami, Umesh, Bumrah, they all have pace. Shami especially can bring in reverse swing into play. Bumrah has accuracy and with that awkward action, he can make the life of the batsmen difficult at the crease. Then there is Bhuvneswar Kumar, who is master of swing bowling. He can effectively move the ball both ways. I haven’t seen such a potent and strong pace bowling attack recently.

CS: How would you rate this Australia team?

MA: To be very honest, Australia is not that dangerous that they used to be. And to add to their worries, if Steve Smith and David Warner aren’t allowed to play, their batting would be weakened. Both of them are match winners. This Australia team lacks experience. But they will be playing on home soil and I personally feel the task for Indian team will not be easy. Mitchell Starc, if stays fit for the entire test series, would be a headache for Indian batsmen. He can single-handedly destroy any batting line up on his day. So India should be cautious.

CS: How difficult will it be for the Indian spinners down under?


MA: Their task will be very challenging. Australian wickets will not assist spin bowling. But there will be bounce. I feel spinner like Kuldeep Yadav, who can earn spin and bounce from any track, can make a difference. He has fast emerged as a good bowler. Now he is bowling well and improving every day. Ashwin has experience, but I am not sure how far will he go in terms of success on Australian soil.


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