Free Press Journal

Shami will be India’s ‘go to’ man: Sunil Valson


New Delhi:  Mohammed Shami may be struggling with form and rhythm but India’s 1983 World Cup-winning squad member Sunil Valson feels that the West Bengal medium-pacer will be the team’s ‘go to’ man in the upcoming cricket World Cup.

Former left-arm pacer Valson, who failed to get a game in the 1983 edition but did play in a couple of warm-up matches, said that Shami should step up and lead the way for fellow pacers in Australia and New Zealand.

“He (Shami) has performed well in the one-dayers in India. There are issues about the line but it all boils down to how early you pick up the wickets and put the opposition under pressure. So he is certainly going to be on your main strike bowler. He has to take charge and he is one of the senior-most now,” Valson, who picked up 212 wickets in 75 first class games for Delhi and Railways between 1977-88, told PTI in an interview.

Failing to get a game in the presence of bowling stars like Kapil Dev, Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Madan Lal, Roger Binny and Mohinder Amarnath, Valson argues that the 83′ edition was not about bits and pieces players but more about performers.

I wouldn’t say bits and pieces, I would say they were more of performers. Yes, I mean all-rounders are always game changers as they not only provide depth in your batting but also gives options in your bowling. It brought out the classic five bowlers, six batsman combination,” said Valson.

India may have faltered on their Australian tour so far, but Valson gives the Men in Blue the benefit of doubt and believes that a turnaround is always possible in ODI cricket.

“See it happens with the best of teams. Playing abroad is always a challenge. You have lot many new players, who are cementing their positions, so that’s bound to happen with any team, the transition. And how fast they settle in that’s what really matters.

“It’s a tough challenge, but at the same time you cannot really rule out. When it has come to crunch situations you have found the boys have stood. And they have been playing in Australia for a while and have been getting their combination right and yes they need to fire that’s for sure and I am confident the boys will come good,” said the 56-year-old Valson.

While terming the 83′ win as the turning point of Indian cricket, Valson also credited the Sourav Ganguly’s and Sachin Tendulkar’s for taking Indian cricket forward.

“That was the period when cricket was looked In India in an altogether different way. One day cricket had come in,  we weren’t doing all that well. We all were underdogs and even that was an understatement. And we went on to lift the Cup and changed the entire perception of the sport. So that was a game changer.

“And after that the way we have grown, we have really went on to a different level with players like Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar taking it forward,” he said.

Notwithstanding Dhoni’s recent dip in form, Valson feels that the ‘Captain Cool’, like always, will rise to the challenge.

“He still is the same batsman that he was. He is experienced and a cool headed guy and I expect him to perform now,” he concluded.

South Africa scraped home with three balls to spare. Quinton de Kock (66) and stand-in captain Hashim Amla (46) put on 116 for the first wicket, giving South Africa a platform and flexibility when rain intervened.

Rilee Rossouw (16 not out) and Vernon Philander (13 not out) were there at the end.

South Africa was without captain A.B. de Villiers, who was rested because of tightness in one hip, but still functioned efficiently under the leadership of Amla, reinforcing its reputation as one of the teams to beat at this year’s tournament.

Sri Lanka will also have taken heart from a strong all-round performance. Veteran Tillakaratne Dilshan made 100 — and was out next ball — and Angelo Mathews made 58 as Sri Lanka built a substantial total as rain cut short its innings.

Dilshan reached his 100 from 82 balls while Mathews and Dimuth Karunaratne (46) kept the runs flowing later in the order.

South Africa used eight bowlers, the best of whom were Kyle Abbott who took 3-37 and Wayne Parnell who took 2-42.

The Proteas were then unperturbed by the rain delays which twice forced them to revise their victory target in a match played in bitterly cold conditions.

J.P. Duminy (17) and Faf du Plessis (19) both fell as South Africa approached its target but Rossouw and Philander,  promoted in the order, kept their composure to guide their team home.

South Africa needed 18 runs from the last two overs and Philander hit a six from the penultimate ball of the 24th over — which yielded 14 runs — to leave the Proteas needing only four from the final over.

Lasith Malinga, regarded as the best death bowler in world cricket, returned to the Sri Lanka lineup Monday after a long break with an ankle injury. He was entrusted with the final over but couldn’t prevent Philander and Rossouw knocking off those four runs in three balls.