Candidness, precision and honesty. Few people epitomize these three epithets better than Dilip Doshi, one of the finest left-arm spinners India has ever produced.
A Bengal legend, Doshi’s Test career could’ve yielded a lot more than 114 wickets had selection practices been fair and transparent in the 1970s and '80s. It’s no secret how Bishan Singh Bedi, a 'legendary' left-arm spinner, impeded the progress of Doshi, Rajinder Goel and Padmakar Shivalkar during that era, but that’s a story for another day.
As Virat Kohli’s India prepare for their sternest test in the T20 World Cup 2021 against Kane Williamson’s New Zealand on Sunday, Doshi shared his opinion on the Men in Blue's humiliating defeat against Pakistan, the waning form of Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Varun Chakravarthy’s performance and much more in this exclusive conversation with Sportskeeda.
Q: India were outclassed by Pakistan in the first match. What are the loopholes in the Indian side that need immediate rectification?
Doshi: We were completely outplayed by Pakistan. They looked a far better side on that particular day. We have to understand why we weren’t effective. Our top-order batters have struggled regularly against left-arm pacers bowling over the wicket over the past few years. The techniques of our batters, barring Virat, were faulty. I would attribute the failure to a lack of application and common sense on the part of our batters.
Q: There has been a lot of talk surrounding India’s team selection. What are your thoughts on this?
Doshi: It’s true that some people are playing based on their past reputation. Players like Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar haven’t performed to their full potential for some time now. (Ravichandran) Ashwin should play every game because he’s the world’s best spinner at present. You cannot afford to drop him.
Q: Do you think Pandya and Kumar should make way for Ishan Kishan and Shardul Thakur in the Indian XI against New Zealand?
Doshi: See, people who are close to the team have a better idea of who’s in what condition. You need players who can make an impact. Hardik Pandya has outstanding potential and needs to focus on his ability to perform with consistency.
By bowling in the 130 km speed zone, Bhuvi is unable to put pressure. Shardul should definitely play because he has been in good touch of late and is an outstanding cricketer. Deepak Chahar, too, deserved a place in the squad. I also feel Jadeja’s bowling has gone down over the past few years. He is an outstanding cricketer, but needs to reflect and improve his bowling to play to his full potential.
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Q: What is your assessment of Varun Chakravarthy?
Doshi: International cricket is a lot different from the IPL. He did very well for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the last two seasons, but is still untested at international level. He should be rested for the crucial games. On the UAE pitches, especially in Sharjah, you need spinners who can entice the batters forward. Our spinners clearly failed to do this against Pakistan. They won so comfortably because the Indian spinners made them play off the backfoot and get away.
Q: What are your views on Yuzvendra Chahal and Harshal Patel’s exclusions from the 15-member squad? The selectors said Rahul Chahar was preferred to Chahal as the former “bowls fast and gets pace off the pitch”.
Doshi: I beg to differ with the selectors. Chahal has been a proven performer for India. Besides, a spinner’s success depends on how well he is able to draw the batters forward.
As far as Harshal Patel is concerned, I hope his time comes soon. A lot of cricket is being played these days, so one should never lose hope of a national call-up.
Q: How do you view the tournament scheduling? By the time India play their second match, Pakistan would’ve played their first three matches…
Doshi: Had India won the first game, you wouldn’t have asked me this question. These factors don’t influence a team’s fortunes to a great degree. That said, it helps when you’re on a roll. I am sure the break will help the Indian team regroup and get their act together for the New Zealand game.
Q: Which spinners have impressed you the most in the tournament so far?
Doshi: It’s too early to say. I like the English duo of Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali because they consistently draw batsmen forward, which keeps the batters guessing.
Q: New Zealand enjoy the upper hand against India in T20 internationals. What should be India’s approach against them?
Doshi: Stats become irrelevant in such big tournaments. It all depends on how you perform on a given day. There was so much buzz around India’s 12-0 record against Pakistan in World Cup matches. We all saw what happened last Sunday, right?
We have a good team that has pulled off many amazing comebacks. Let’s have full faith in the boys.
Q: Your message to the Indian team…
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Doshi: I wish them all the best. They should take inspiration from Steve Waugh’s Australia at the 1999 World Cup. They were tottering at one stage, but eventually went on to win the World Cup. Like Waugh’s Australia, Kohli’s India should treat each game as a final.
Q. Should Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar make way for Ishan Kishan and Shardul Thakur for the New Zealand game?
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