India have come up with a whole lot of changes in their squads for the upcoming tour of the West Indies starting August 3. While Virat Kohli has been retained as the captain across the formats, the ODI and T20I squads have seen some key changes after the disappointment in the recently held cricket World Cup. Players like Manish Pandey, Navdeep Saini and Khaleel Ahmed have made a comeback while the Chahar cousins – Deepak and Rahul – have been picked for the T20Is.
Former India speedster Munaf Patel spoke to TV9 about the upcoming series in the Caribbeans as well as the MS Dhoni retirement issue. The former bowler, who was a member of the World Cup-winning team of 2011, feels India will be strong favourites against the Windies, especially in the Tests and ODIs. He felt the home team failed to make much impact in the recent World Cup and the pitches in their den will suit India’s spinner better.
When asked about pacer Saini’s return to the India squad, the 36-year-old Munaf said he has to produce a top-class performance to retain his place. The 26-year-old bowler from Haryana who plays for Delhi did well in the Indian Premier League this year. He was also flown to England to give practice to the Indian batters ahead of the World Cup.
He also represented India A in the just-concluded ODI series against the West Indies A on their soil and took eight wickets in four wickets in four matches, including a fifer. Saini had replaced an injured Mohammed Shami during India’s one-off Test against Afghanistan in Bengaluru last year although he did not get into the XI. In the limited-overs series, this is his first India call.
“He (Saini) is the only player now who can bowl at 150 kmpl. He needs to be in the Test team also and should be kept with the team throughout,” Munaf, who was known for bowling quick, said adding that Saini also works hard on his fitness.
‘You can’t ignore Dhoni just like that’
On the question of Dhoni’s retirement, Munaf said the wicket-keeper is a player big enough to take his own decision. “He has his own planning. He must have told the BCCI but not all things are revealed. Dhoni doesn’t need anybody to tell him what to do. He has done so much for the country. What West Indies have achieved since 1975, Dhoni has done it in a few years (2007-15). He has won us all trophies. You can’t ignore him just like that,” he said.
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