Former cricketer Mohammad Kaif asserted on Monday that the Indian team has the capability to win the World Cup at home this year and it should not be judged on the basis of two T20I losses in the West Indies. India, after winning the two-Test series and ODIs in the Caribbean, are trailing 0-2 in the five-match T20I series, leading to criticism over the side’s preparations ahead of two major competitions — the Asia Cup in Pakistan and Sri Lanka and the ODI World Cup at home.
However, Kaif said at a function here that the fears of India under-performing in the World Cup were unfounded, although he indicated that pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah will have to be fully fit for the hosts to end the title drought.
“India has lost just two matches (T20Is against West Indies), so we do not need to get overly concerned. I am seeing a lot of negative reaction after the two losses. But I will only say that our team is extremely competitive. I am not going to judge (India) on two back-to-back losses (in the West Indies). The only thing is that key players are missing,” Kaif said.
“Bumrah missing is the biggest factor. If he recovers fully… one aspect is to complete the recovery and the other aspect is to gain match fitness. If he regains that (match fitness), it will be a massive gain for Team India. If Bumrah is fully fit, we have a great chance of winning the World Cup at home,” said Kaif.
Bumrah will be staging a comeback during the T20 series against Ireland after being out of action for almost a year following a back surgery, and Kaif attributed the 29-year-old quick’s absence for India’s string of losses in major competitions during that period.
“A lot of people are discussing that the (India) team under (chief coach) Rahul Dravid lost the (T20) Asia Cup (last year), the (T20) World Cup in Australia, the World Test Championship in England (recently).
“I understand all that, mistakes have happened. But I think, is it not easy to play with Bumrah not in the side. He is the biggest match-winner and Rohit Sharma didn’t get his services, so think about all that.
“I believe, as soon as Bumrah returns fully fit… he wins 50 per cent of the matches for the Indian team. I think if Bumrah is in the team and a few others like KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer also return, we have the players who can win the (World Cup) trophy,” added Kaif.
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