Cricket legend Kapil Dev is not losing sleep over the recent lean patch of Virat Kohli and is confident that the Delhi stalwart will bounce back into form in the ICC Champions Trophy commencing on June 1.
“It (Kohli’s form) should not be (a worry). I know his ability and talent. He will bounce back. I don’t see any reasons (why) he will not be among the runs,” Kapil told PTI.
“He is an important player (for the team) and if he starts getting runs, then the whole team gets motivated. If your captain starts getting runs, it’s the best thing that happens,” Kapil added.
Kohli, who hammered 973 runs last season in 16 Test matches, managed only 308 runs in 10 games in the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League, with a highest score of 64, for the Royal Challengers Bangalore who were knocked out after finishing last on the league table.
Defending champions India start their campaign in the tournament, being held in England, with the much-awaited group clash against arch rivals Pakistan on June 4 in Birmingham.
Kapil, who led underdogs India to an unforgettable World Cup triumph in 1983, termed the present Indian bowling attack as the best and heaped special praise on young death-over specialist Jasprit Bumrah.
“When I saw Bumrah for the first time, I never expected (that he will rise). He has such a strong mind! When your action is not so clean, it is difficult to manage to bowl such good bowling line and length, yorkers. He has the strength within himself. Whatever he wants to do, he can do,” said Kapil about the Ahmedabad-born bowler.
“His mindset is better than anything else and I have started respecting him much more than what I had seen on the first day when he played a ODI match,” said Kapil, who had taken 434 wickets from 131 Test matches.
“If I see all these players, I don’t think anybody else can fit in. Bhuvnesh (Kumar) is very good, Umesh (Yadav) is very good, (Mohammed) Shami is extraordinary. (Ravichandran) Ashwin will be back and (Ravindra) Jadeja. They are the best bowlers we have in the country,” said the 58-year-old former India skiper, who scalped 253 wickets in 225 ODIs.
Kapil emphasized that the Indian team for the Champions Trophy looks strong on paper.
“On paper it (team) looks very good. Perhaps I know the team much better than other teams, so I can say, Indian team looks very good at this stage,” the cricket legend said.
Asked whether half century for Rising Pune Supergiant against Mumbai Indians in the IPL Qualifier 1 signalled Ajinkya Rahane’s return to form, Kapil said he was hoping the innings would boost the batsman’s confidence in the Champions Trophy.
“Ajinkya Rahane has shown time and again that he has the ability and temperament (to score runs). Just sometimes one knock can change the thought process, and I hope he will be much confident now (after the fifty) than the day before.”
Kapil welcomed the presence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh in the team and said the duo’s vast experience would stand the team in good stead.
“Both of them have a lot of respect among the youngsters. They have to play to their potential. We can’t expect Dhoni or Yuvraj to be the same, as they were 15 years back. Their experience can come into the game,” he added.
Quizzed about the epic India-Pakistan clash in Birmingham the former skipper said that Pakistan were the underdogs.
“Indian team obviously looks far better and they are playing cricket which is among the best at this stage. So on paper our (Indian) team is far better,” Kapil said.
“Pakistan at this stage has nothing to lose. They have everything to gain and they are the underdogs. They have ruthless players, but Indian team, on paper, looks far better,” he signed off.