New Delhi: India's premier fast bowler Zaheer Khan feels that Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma's form will be key to India' title defence as they get ready to face arch-rivals Pakistan in the ICC Cricket World Cup in less than a week's time.
"Rohit and Virat's form will be crucial to India's World Cup chances. Rohit will opening the innings with Virat coming at either Nos 3 or 4 depending on match situation. Both have the ability to bat through the innings or even play the role of sheer anchor necessary in such a tournament," Zaheer told PTI-Bhasha today.
Zaheer didn't give too much importance to the tri-series performance where India lost three out of four matches.
"World Cup is a new tournament and I don't think India's performance in tri series will affect them. They have also got a long break after that and if you see the format also, I am sure India will play semi final," Zaheer said.
"World Cup is a long tournament and injuries play a crucial role. It's good to have a settled team and gain the momentum at right time. Australia and New Zealand are also top contenders as they have home advantage on fast pitches. South Africa is also playing well consistently so I think these four teams can reach in last four," he added.
He also did not give much importance to hue and cry about Indian pacers' form and fitness.
"Injuries are part and parcel of the game but you have to find the right combination. It's not about bowling only.
Cricket is a team game and batsmen also have to give their best. I am hopeful that team India will deliver all round performance," said the pacer, who has taken 311 wickets from 92 Tests and 282 wickets in 200 ODIs.
When asked about his tips for Dhoni and Co, he said that Mohammad Shami should start with the new ball.
"If you ask my suggestion, they should give the new ball to Shami, who will set the tone. First spell will be very crucial. I will only say that taking wickets is the only key to restrict run-rates," said the ace bowler.
"We have been playing with the new rules for a while now.
As far as death overs are concerned, the bowlers have got to have clear thinking. I am sure they will do well," said Zaheer.
He also feels that despite their poor show the long Australia tour can give India an added advantage.
"Indian team had a long Australia tour and played at almost every venue. This can work to their advantage."
Zaheer termed that Dhoni's decision to have a short trekking and fishing trip at the Adelaide outskirts as a routine thing which have been done in the past as well.
"We have been doing things like this in the past as well to unwind and start afresh."
On his comeback plans, he said that he is raring to go but will start with shorter format.
"I am good to start but I would like to start with shorter version, may be T20," he said.
When asked about the reason behind not playing Ranji matches in this season, he said that he is not yet ready to bowl 35- 40 overs.
"As I said that I am fit but want to start with shorter format. I decided to stay away with Ranji matches as the 35 ? 40 overs workload was too high to start with," he concluded.