New Delhi, Feb 9: Mohammed Shami may be struggling with form and rhythm but India's 1983 World Cup-winning squad member Sunil Valson feels that the West Bengal medium-pacer will be the team's 'go to' man in the upcoming cricket World Cup.
Former left-arm pacer Valson, who failed to get a game in the 1983 edition but did play in a couple of warm-up matches, said that Shami should step up and lead the way for fellow pacers in Australia and New Zealand.
"He (Shami) has performed well in the one-dayers in India. There are issues about the line but it all boils down to how early you pick up the wickets and put the opposition under pressure. So he is certainly going to be your main strike bowler. He has to take charge and he is one of the senior-most now," Valson, who picked up 212 wickets in 75 first class games for Delhi and Railways between 1977-88, told PTI in an interview.
Failing to get a game in the presence of bowling stars like Kapil Dev, Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Madan Lal, Roger Binny and Mohinder Amarnath, Valson argues that the 83' edition was not about bits and pieces players but more about performers.
"I wouldn't say bits and pieces, I would say they were more of performers. Yes, I mean all-rounders are always game changers as they not only provide depth in your batting but also gives options in your bowling. It brought out the classic five bowlers, six batsman combination," said Valson.
India may have faltered on their Australian tour so far, but Valson gives the Men in Blue the benefit of doubt and believes that a turnaround is always possible in ODI cricket.
"See it happens with the best of teams. Playing abroad is always a challenge. You have lot many new players, who are cementing their positions, so that's bound to happen with any team, the transition. And how fast they settle in that's what really matters.
"It's a tough challenge, but at the same time you cannot really rule out. When it has come to crunch situations you have found the boys have stood. And they have been playing in Australia for a while and have been getting their combination right and yes they need to fire that's for sure and I am confident the boys will come good," said the 56-year-old Valson.
1983 WC win changed Indian cricket
While terming the 83' win as the turning point of Indian cricket, Valson also credited the Sourav Ganguly's and Sachin Tendulkar's for taking Indian cricket forward.
"That was the period when cricket was looked In India in an altogether different way. One day cricket had come in, we weren't doing all that well. We all were underdogs and even that was an understatement. And we went on to lift the Cup and changed the entire perception of the sport. So that was a game changer.
"And after that the way we have grown, we have really went on to a different level with players like Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar taking it forward," he said.
Notwithstanding Dhoni's recent dip in form, Valson feels that the 'Captain Cool', like always, will rise to the challenge. "He still is the same batsman that he was. He is experienced and a cool headed guy and I expect him to perform now," he concluded.