India need Pujara's experience at No. 3: WV Raman

W V Raman
W V Raman has coached the Indian women's team. File photo: AFP/Indranil Mukherjee

Woorkeri Venkat Raman ruled domestic cricket in the 1980s and 1990s. The stylish left-handed Tamil Nadu opener, though, did not quite translate his talent into success at the international level.

Raman, who played 11 Tests and 27 ODIs, has also coached the Indian women's team. He spoke about Team India's upcoming tour of Ireland and England in an online interaction organised by Sony Sports.


How crucial is the T20 series against Ireland for players like Sanju Samson and Rahul Tripathi?

This is a series in which Rahul Dravid might think of playing all the players who are trying to break into the Indian team or establish themselves. Obviously, Sanju Samson will be figuring in the plans of Dravid overall. But here you have V V S Laxman taking care of the side to Ireland. So they both would have quite a few discussions on how to go about it. I think this is the ideal time for the team management to give opportunities to the likes of Umran Malik, Venkatesh Iyer, Sanju Samson, Tripathi and also Arshdeep (Singh).

So you will be blooding in Umran Malik if you were in Laxman's place...

I think this is the ideal opportunity because there is no point in having an exciting talent as a part of the squad and not playing him. It's a delicate balance you will have to strike. The young man will be very excited to be part of the Indian side. But if you are sort of keeping him in the squad for too long without playing a game he might also get extremely disappointed about it. You can't really sort of douse the enthusiasm of a young man who has done well and who has played good cricket in a highly competitive atmosphere and tournament like IPL. Try and give him a taste of what international cricket is all about. It might be Ireland, but they have got some exciting cricketers with good strike rates and good economy rates which means that in T20 cricket they can pose you problems if you take them too easily. It takes only a good 20 minutes for any side or an individual to change the entire complexion of a T20 game.

This being a World Cup year how do you rate the Indian T20 team?

We have the talent and exposure. We have been playing IPL for a long time and we have seen the IPL experience helping (Jonny) Bairstow to win a Test match for his country (England against New Zealand). It would not have been possible but for the experience of playing in the IPL. That being the case the Indian side will obviously feel buoyant about their chances and they have enough options to do the job for them. I have no doubt at all as far as options and talent and the ability of the players are concerned. The only thing is at times you need a bit of luck as well in a major tournament.

 Men in Blue
The Men in Blue last won an ICC event in 2013. File photo: IANS

Shifting the focus to the rescheduled fifth Test, how tough it will be for Team India to take on a well-prepared England?

England will have the advantage of not only playing at home, they will also be on a high in terms of morale because of their victory over the WTC (World Test Championship) winners New Zealand. It will give them a lot of confidence. There are a lot of changes in the team's set-up. It will be a very stiff challenge for the Indian team because England are doing well under the new coach (Brendon McCullum) and we also got a new coach. It will be very interesting to see the contrasting styles of the coaches. McCullum is always buoyant and always looking to be on the go whereas Dravid has always been one who has been solid. He will step on the gas as and when required. It will be interesting to see how the players kind of respond to the calls of their coaches. It's going to be a challenging Test for India and there is also a lot riding on the match (India lead the five-match series 2-1).

Chetshwar Pujara has earned a recall to the Indian Test team. Will you pick him in your eleven?

We need a batter like Pujara in the line-up. Let's not forget that we don't have K L Rahul, which means we'll have Shubman Gill possibly opening with Rohit Sharma. So we need all the experience especially when you are talking about the team being short of practice in red-ball cricket. Pujara has been playing in England and getting runs. Pujara has played some outstanding knocks for India when it mattered. His experience will be required at No. 3.

You have seen Shami from his days as a Bengal Ranji bowler. How do you analyse his growth as one of the leading pacers in world cricket?

I had no doubt in my mind that he was going to do wonders for India. He's gone through a tough time off the field, but he's put that behind and worked hard on his game. He has delivered whenever the captains wanted him to. He seems to be getting better and better with each passing season. He's proving to be the wine as far as the Indian bowling attack is concerned. 

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