IND vs NZ, ICC World Cup 2023: India elected to bowl first after Rohit Sharma won the toss against unbeaten New Zealand in their world cup match in Dharamshala.
Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar on Sunday heaped praises on Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh for transforming Indian cricket and iterated that the current team under the leadership of Virat Kohli is the best in the world irrespective of their result in ICC tournaments.
“Winning tournaments is one thing but staying at top is another. India is still the top-ranked Test team and is almost among the top teams in the limited-overs format. So, we should not base their performance only on their showing in ICC events,” Akhtar was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
“Of course, they should win ICC events and they have to. This team, when the top four score, they win more often than not. But if they don’t, then it is an issue. Another thing I noticed is that you need a match-winner like Yuvraj (Singh) or Dhoni in the middle-order,” he further explained.
The world’s fastest bowler said that throughout the late 90s and early 2000s Pakistan were the stronger team and touring India was not a mean task back then. But with the advent of Yuvraj and Dhoni, the Indian team’s middle-order was strengthened and it became a catalyst for their change in fortune.
“When we toured India in 1998, we always thought we would run through India after getting the top order. There was no match-winner until Yuvraj came in, followed by Dhoni. Then you started seeing changes in results. Right now, the problem is lack of finishers,” the 44-year-old further opined.
The duo of Yuvraj and Dhoni are credited for India’s T20 World Cup win in 2007 and ODI World Cup win in 2011. While the rest of the team including players like Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan, Virender Sehwag, also made remarkable contributions, things could have been different for India if not for Yuvraj and Dhoni who played the role of finishers for the team in the middle-order.