Kolkata: Pace spearhead Zaheer Khan’s absence from the India-Sri Lanka Test series is a golden opportunity for the youngsters, including Karnataka fast bowler Abhimanyu Mithun, to prove their mettle in the highest level, feels former stumper Syed Kirmani.
“I think, Zaheer’s absence will be a good opportunity for the youngsters to fill the gap. It’s a motivating factor for them,” Kirmani, a member of the 1983 World Cup winning team, said on Saturday.
Kirmani made it clear that he has no doubt about Mithun’s potential but reminded that all will depend on performance.
“Mithun has tremendous potential. He has it in him to go all the way up. But all depends on how he conducts,” said Kirmani, also the Chairman of Karnataka’s state selection panel.
Zaheer has been ruled out of the series due to a shoulder injury.
On the three-match series, the 60-year-old said, “It all depends on the individual form of the players. It will be a keenly-contested series for sure and the key would be consistency.”
The first of the three Tests begins at Galle on July 18.
Disappointed with the performance of young cricketers in Zimbabwe, Kirmani said they should take a lesson from iconic batsman Sachin Tendulkar.
“The youngsters should take the classic example of Sachin Tendulkar, the greatest cricketer in the world at this moment. He is full of discipline, the youngsters should emulate him,” Kirmani said.
Kirmani also praised Bengal wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha.
“He is in the team (for the Sri Lanka series), obviously the second best at the moment. But let’s not be pessimistic about Dhoni or anybody in the team. We hope our full strength team to perform always.
“Saha should consider himself very lucky. He should make use of his opportunity. I hope that he get a chance to perform at the highest level,” he said.
On the retirement of world’s leading wicket-taker Muttiah Muralitharan, who is to quit after the first Test, Kirmani said, “His words for Harbhajan Singh are really encouraging.”
“Records are meant to be broken. There will always be somebody who will go past you. Even Sir Donald Bradman’s (highest century) record was broken by (Sunil) Gavaskar and later Sachin Tendulkar surpassed him. Only time will say it all,” he added.
Muralitharan recently said among the current crop of slow bowlers, only Harbhajan can match his record of scalping nearly 800 Test wickets.
Brand ambassador of Widex Hi-definition Hearing, Kirmani was in the city to distribute hearing aids to the differently-abled children.