NEW DELHI: Sanju Samson possesses all the necessary skills to excel in the middle-order, making a strong case for his inclusion in the final 15 for the ODI World Cup scheduled at home in October-November, according to former India international Mohammad Kaif.
In the series-deciding third ODI against West Indies in Tarouba, Samson displayed his prowess by smashing an impactful fifty under pressure. With the middle-order spots up for contention, Samson’s performance in that crucial match has certainly bolstered his chances.
The injuries to Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul have opened doors of opportunity for players like Samson and Suryakumar Yadav. While Suryakumar had a forgettable series in the Caribbean, Samson has been making the most of his chances, impressing with his batting prowess and ability to perform under pressure.
India have often slowed down in the middle orders and Kaif feels Samson can address that issue.
“I am massively impressed by Samson. He played an impactful knock, whether at four or five, he has done it in the past.”
Kaif didn’t endorse sending Ishan Kishan and Axar Patel in the middle order.
“Sending Kishan or Axar Patel in the middle-order is not a great idea. You need some who can play left-arm spin, leg spin and Samson can do that. His knock in the third ODI came under pressure and he is ready for the World Cup,” said Kaif on the launch of Amrit Mathur’s book ‘Pitchside’ on Wednesday.
India need a fully fit Bumrah to win World Cup
All eyes will be on Jasprit Bumrah in the T20 series in Ireland later this month when he will lead the side. It will his comeback series after being out of action for almost a year following his back surgery.
Kaif reckons India will struggle without Bumrah in knock out games, like they did in the T20 World Cup in Australia last year. He also doesn’t agree with a view India have the depth to field two or three teams, at least not in the bowling department.
“The players who are injured, India’s chances in the World Cup will depend a lot on that (their comeback). Bumrah is coming now after a long injury lay off and we will get an idea on how fit he is. India need a fully fit Bumrah to do well in World Cup at home’
“In the bowling department, you can’t have two teams. If Bumrah doesn’t play we will lose, like we did in Asia Cup T20 and 2022 T20 World Cup. We don’t have his back up.
“At the moment the team is not looking the strongest on paper as it is missing key players including K L Rahul, Pant, Iyer and the biggest factor is Bumrah,” said the 42-year-old.
India were criticised for experimenting in the ODI series in the Caribbean and giving rest to skipper Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli to try out fringe players.
“I won’t judge the team for what it has done on the West Indies tour. If Rohit Sharma and Kohli had to take a break then they should not have been part of the squad. I will judge them from Asia Cup and the 15 they pick for the tournament.
“From Asia Cup onwards, they have to be sure what their 11 is and what their back ups are,” said Kaif.
He will also have Kishan as the reserve wicket-keeper in the World Cup squad.
“He will be in the squad as he has done well. I am not sure if Kishan, SKY, Samson and Iyer, all of them won’t be in the 15. It remains to be seen if Kishan will be the back-up wicket keeper to Rahul.”
Kaif believes India will again qualify for the quarter-final.
“World Cup for India will start with the semi-final. They will need to win two big games to lift the title,” he added.
(With PTI Inputs)