New Delhi: India's first World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev expressed delight on Wednesday at Yuvraj Singh's inclusion in the Twenty20 squad, adding that the swashbuckling left-hander has the ability to draw people to watch the game like other sporting greats John McEnroe and Diego Maradona.
Kapil Dev. Pic/PTI, AFP
"Yuvraj is the most exciting cricketer India has produced in recent times. He has that character like McEnroe or Maradona. There is something about him that makes people want to watch him whether he is batting, bowling or fielding," Kapil said here.
"He has the ability to help India win. But the question is whether he believes in himself or not. He has the experience and if he is fit enough, he will be the backbone of the team."
India will be touring Australia to play five One-Day Internationals (ODI) and three Twenty20 Internationals from January 12 to 31. Yuvraj has been picked only for the shortest format of the game, keeping in mind the World Twenty20 to be played in India in March-April.
Kapil also spoke about the "jugalbandi" of limited overs skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Test captain Virat Kohli adding they are like brothers -- one cool and reserved, the other aggressive.
"Dhoni is probably the most experienced captain in the world. He led India to No.1 spot in Tests, he won the World Twenty20 and the (50 over) World Cup. So he has the experience and has done it all. He is captain cool and has ruthless players," said Kapil, who will commentate for broadcaster Star Sports during India's tour of Australia.
"Kohli is very aggressive and fearless. He can come out and be aggressive unlike Indian batsmen in the past whether is was V.V.S. Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar or Sourav Ganguly. Kohli talks back like a fast bowler. Kohli and Dhoni are like two brothers -- one is aggressive the other cool and subdued."
The 56-year-old praised former skipper Ganguly for bringing about this change.
"Today Indian batsmen are fearless. I remember quite clearly that during our time, the batsmen were subdued but Ganguly changed that. I knew him for a long time and I thought of him as a nice, soft chap. But as captain he played with aggression," said the former all-rounder.
"Ganguly also had a great team and since then, the Indian team changed and they could look eye-to-eye and fight without fear. Cricket has really changed in the last 20 years. It is about attitude today and aggression works."
The former right-hand pacer said the key to beat Australia in their own backyard is to take wickets in the first 15 overs.
"Bowlers who can bowl at 140 kmph will have a chance because the ball does a bit there. The key will be if 1-2 bowlers take wickets and the others put on the pressure. The first 15 overs will be crucial," said the "Haryana Hurricane".
"They should not look to bowl a maiden over or restrict them, they should be looking for wickets. If they get three wickets in the first 15 overs, then it is game on."
The greatest all-rounder India has produced, Kapil also lauded Australian cricketers for being at the top of the game continuously for the last 40-50 years.
"The way the Australians play is very different. If you see the last 40-50 years, Australian cricket has never gone down. They have maintained the level. You saw English cricket do gown, the West Indies cricket getting finished but Australia have always been right up there."
"It is their way of playing that is different, they always want to give it their best," concluded the former speedster, who was once the world's highest Test wicket-taker with 434 scalps.
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