Kings XI Punjab coach and former Indian captain Anil Kumble feels that the Indian team has certain issues to address before the T20 World Cup next year in Australia. According to the newly-appointed coach of IPL franchise Kings XI Punjab, the wicket-keeper's slot, a good balance between wicket-taking options and all-rounders as well as the role of MS Dhoni are areas where India still need clarity.
Talking to CricketNext, Kumble opened up about the million-dollar question relating to the role of former India captain and Chennai Super Kings leader MS Dhoni's future with the national team. The leg-spinner believes that Dhoni's experience in the T20 WC will be invaluable but everything depended on how he goes about the 2020 IPL. He said:
“It’s all about how MS (Dhoni) goes about the IPL and if at all the Indian team believes that they need these services for the World Cup then from there on he may be a part of the team. But we will have to wait and see.”
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With the Indian bowlers shining bright in all the formats this year, Kumble still thinks that the wicket-taking options will be key. He believes that India should go in with a frontline bowler instead of a bowling all-rounder which resonates with the attacking mindset of Indian captain Virat Kohli. Similarly, Kumble favored the inclusion of spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav in the playing XI. Kumble stated:
“It’s very important that India starts thinking about who will perform in Australian conditions and who is that bowler who has the ability to pick up wickets because that’s what will put pressure on the opposition."
"I certainly believe that you need wicket-taking bowlers and someone like a Kuldeep and Chahal need to be a part of that in my view. Yes, there are instances where you know the ball gets wet because of the dew, then is it right for two wrist-spinners to be there."
Anil Kumble also backed his IPL franchise captain and Indian opener KL Rahul to take up wicket-keeping duties for India in case of an emergency or to add an extra all-rounder or pacer in the squad. Having seen Rahul closely during his years with the Karnataka Ranji Team, Kumble thinks that the classy batsman is more than a decent keeper and can perform well at this level. He said:
“It is very important that you need to start looking out for wicket taking options. If it means that you need to bring in just fast bowlers who you believe will pick up wickets, rather than looking at all-rounders, which I think this team is looking for; I think that’s the critical aspect... K L Rahul is someone that India may look to also use. Because he is pretty safe in T20 format. He is good, he has kept wickets for Karnataka. And we know the quality that he brings to white ball cricket as a batsman, so yes that is a very good option."
"But whatever option India take, I think it is important to freeze on that at least 10-12 matches prior to the World Cup."