A “force to reckon with” no matter where they play in the world, an “unbelievable” bowling attack, with an “ultimate captain” who leads from the front, is how former West Indies great Brian Lara looks at the current Indian team.
The Indian team under Virat Kohli has been ranked No.1 in the world since October 2016, and at home they recently won their 11th consecutive series to reinforce their status as international cricket’s best Test side. They are also the only unbeaten side in the World Test Championship so far, with four wins and 200 points.
Lara, who played 131 Tests from 1990 to 2006, would have preferred if the World Test Championship had started much earlier.
Lara heaped praises on India’s bowling attack, saying it reminded him of the West Indies attack of the 1980s and ’90s, and said unlike earlier, India are not just good at home but respected as an opposition while travelling too.
“The Indian outfit – batting, bowling and fielding – is exceptional,” Lara said at an event in Mumbai. “I thought their fast bowlers were sometimes unplayable [during the recent Test series in the West Indies]. So starting with that you’ve got to give India credit with where their cricket is; they’re at a very high point.”
To describe the current Indian bowling attack, he started with one word: “Unbelievable. I saw them in the West Indies and I must say what I was accustomed to in the past, in the ’90s and early part of the 21st century, this is a little bit exceptional, this is pretty special.
“When you look at the quality – [Mohammed] Shami, [Jasprit] Bumrah, [Umesh] Yadav, they are unbelievable. And the guys that you have on the sidelines, it reminds me a little bit of what the West Indies had back in the ’80s and ’90s…the reserve strength is very important in assessing a team’s ability. If your reserve strength is very good – Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) and all these guys are sitting on the sidelines – then it means that your attack is quality.
“He (Kohli) is the ultimate captain in terms of his performances, he leads by example in all aspects of the game, on and off the field as well,” Lara said. “And he came on after MS Dhoni. Obviously, he (Dhoni) laid the foundation, he did things a different way. So Indian cricket is heading in the right direction, I think it’s influenced by some of the best people so obviously they’re reaping the benefits of it.
“I think it stems from the role models. Sachin [Tendulkar] will talk about Sunil Gavaskar as his role model. I feel that in the ’90s, even though they weren’t amazingly successful, the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, and what they did and stood for, it was a different sort of Indian cricket team coming in and moulding [mindsets] and trying to play good cricket all around the world and be successful.
“We all still reminisce about Sourav Ganguly taking off his shirt and the success that they had in Australia and in the Caribbean. The team now, using role models of the ’90s is showing how good they are and playing on various conditions around the world.”