Originally, it was Shikhar Dhawan who was chosen to lead Team India for the upcoming three-match ODI series against Zimbabwe, beginning August 18 in Harare and KL Rahul was not named in the squad. However, upon recovering from COVID-19, and then being deemed fit, Rahul was included in the squad and he was also named as captain with Dhawan acting as his deputy. Former India batter Mohammad Kaif has now given his take on the entire episode, saying the situation could have been avoided.
“The situation could have been avoided. You have asked a valid question. There might be a miscommunication, and the report of KL Rahul might have come late. He is going there for the Asia Cup, but he would have needed match practice before that. Somewhere, there might have been a miscommunication. If Shikhar Dhawan was announced as the captain, so the team could have played under him, it would not have made any difference,” said Kaif while replying to an NDTV question during a select media interaction organised by Sony Sports Network, who will be broadcasting the upcoming India-Zimbabwe series.
“Currently, it is a different era now. You go as the net-bowler and then you end up playing Tests, and you make your debut. In COVID times, there have been certain changes. But you are right, I completely agree with your question, that if you have announced someone as captain, then the communication could have been better and people would not get the chance to question the call. It is not nice for Shikhar, as a player, he is very chilled out, he will not care but it is not right for Shikhar Dhawan,” he added.
While replying to another NDTV query on whether the ODI format needs any tweaking, Kaif said: “Jaisa hai waisa theek hai sir (It is perfectly fine with the way it is). There are so many formats right now, ODIs are perfect with the way they are. You play a 50-over World Cup, so the ODIs are important. Yes, the game can get slow in the middle, and today people like things to be fast-paced.”
“People get bored, but (those) who get bored, I do not consider them as real fans. They say ‘nothing is happening’, but boss when you are playing, there will be dot balls as well. Players play according to the situation, whatever the game demands, they play like that. Rishabh Pant had scored a hundred against England in the third ODI, but if it is not a 50-over game, you will not get to see knocks like that. Every format has its own taste, keep tasting it.”
Further talking about the importance of Dhawan, Kaif said: “Shikhar Dhawan has a lot of cricket left in him. He is a wonderful batter, he is just playing one format now. He does well in the IPL, he is a wonderful player. Sometimes I get shocked that his name only pops up in ODIs. He is a better player than that, he can play other formats as well. I salute him. He just plays ODIs, but whenever he plays, he scores runs. He did well against West Indies, he scores whenever he gets an opportunity.”
“If you talk about top players in Indian cricket in the white-ball format, you have to talk about Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Shikhar Dhawan. Other players have to work on their game, but these three have shown what they can do in white-ball cricket and whatever they have done, will always stay memorable.”
Lastly, talking about Virat Kohli missing the ODI series against Zimbabwe, Kaif said: “Only Virat Kohli can tell what he is feeling. I do not know what sort of communication he has with the selectors. But, you would want to play as many matches as possible, irrespective of whether you are in form or not. We can just hope that this break will help him. He did go to the West Indies, he is not going to Zimbabwe, the break he has gotten, we can just hope as Virat Kohli and Indian cricket fan, everyone remembers what he has done. We can just hope the break helps him, he comes in Asia Cup and plays match-winning knocks. He is a legend of the game.”