'Bhuvi's injury (stiff back) is a real setback for India'
'If the pitches remain flat and dry like the ones during the limited overs leg, India are in with a very good chance. But if it's a green top, obviously, the England seamers will come into the play'
England Test captain Joe Root may have decoded how to tackle chinaman Kuldeep Yadav but Sachin Tendulkar feels that the young wrist spinner could still prove to be a handful if the home team prepares dry surfaces for the upcoming five Test series against India, starting August 1.
"Whatever I saw on television, Root picked Kuldeep from his hand and did that really well. Now Kuldeep's wrist action is a complex one and once he lands the ball, I don't think too many batsmen in world cricket have got the ability to tackle him off the pitch. Root could afford to play Kuldeep late because he was picking his wrist position early," Tendulkar told PTI during an exclusive interview on Saturday.
When asked if these are ominous signs for the Indian team, Tendulkar disagreed.
"I don't think all the other England batsmen have played Kuldeep well. The kind of weather that has been in England with the sun baking the pitches, Kuldeep will be very much in action and so will be the other Indian spinners.
"If the pitches remain flat and dry like the ones during the limited overs leg, India are in with a very good chance. But if it's a green top, obviously, the England seamers will come into the play," the legend opined.
He did agree that missing Bhuvneshwar Kumar during the first three Tests along with Jasprit Bumrah for the opening game in Birmingham, "will be a setback" for India.
"Bhuvi's injury (stiff back) is a real setback for India. I for one was expecting a lot from him. He has over the years performed at a level that you expect a certain kind of performance from him. With his ability to swing the ball, he was going to be very critical to India's scheme of things during the Test series.
"And let's not forget those runs that Bhuvi scored in England during the last series (2014). He is a decent enough batsman, who could string those partnerships at the back end of the innings. But then, I believe that we still have a lot of quality in our pace department (Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur).
About Bumrah, Tendulkar felt that he was missed more during the ODI series.
"Bumrah was certainly missed by India in the ODI series during those crucial death overs where he has been a champion bowler. He has started off well in Test cricket and this series is a wonderful opportunity for him. But he is expected to comeback during second Test. So I am hoping for the best," Tendulkar said.
But the highest run-getter in Test cricket refused to believe that missing Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah in the first Test will affect the morale of the side, especially skipper Virat Kohli.
"Let me give you an example of my playing days. I was the captain during the 1997 Sahara Cup in Toronto. The Indian team didn't have Javagal Srinath, Venkatesh Prasad and Anil Kumble. Yet, we beat Pakistan 4-1 (series best remembered for Sourav Ganguly's four back to back MoM awards). I don't think we should call India a depleted side as it is being unfair to the others, who will be playing in the series.
"What I am trying to say is that you might just get the best out of your resources in adverse conditions. Just because you don't have certain key players doesn't mean that you will have a certain kind of result. It never happens like that in any sport. Accepted that it's not a great thing to go into a big series without your key player but then you just have to move on and focus on your job ahead," Tendulkar said.
Skipper Virat Kohli's treacherous form in 2014 has been talked about a lot but Tendulkar feels that it will have no bearing on Indian captain's performance in the upcoming series.
"Virat's 2014 performance has got nothing to do with how he would perform in the upcoming series. And it's not just about Virat's performance. If you ask me if I am hopeful of a good show from Virat, my answer would be: ‘Why only Virat?’ I am hopeful of a good show from the Indian team. It's the team that needs to perform well," Tendulkar concluded.