Updated May 31st, 2024 at 22:10 IST

'I would not have gone that way': Ex-India cricketer points out decision that may backfire in T20 WC

India will start their T20 World Cup 2024 campaign with a match against Ireland in New York on June 5.

Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma | Image:BCCI
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In a candid discussion on Star Sports' Press Room World Cup edition, former cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar expressed his reservations about the selection strategy for the Indian squad in the upcoming T20 World Cup 2024. Manjrekar criticized the decision to rely heavily on senior players, particularly the inclusion of stalwarts Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, suggesting that this approach may not yield the desired results.

Sanjay Manjrekar believes that India should have opted for a younger, more dynamic squad. He highlighted the potential of rising star Yashaswi Jaiswal, who has shown promise with his recent performances. According to Manjrekar, the inclusion of younger players would have added a fresh dimension to the team, potentially making India a more formidable opponent.

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"Ideally, I would not have gone that way; I would have stuck with a slightly more younger kind of, core set of players but the selectors have committed themselves to the icons, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli," Manjrekar commented. 

"Now that they are in the squad, it's impossible to have Virat Kohli batting at No. 3 because then you don't get the full rally of Virat. Rohit Sharma has to open, so now, India in a way have forced themselves to have only one kind of combination — two right-handers," he explained. 

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"Unfortunately, Jaiswal will have to sit out. I would have gone completely with a new lot (and) then he would have had a lot more flair and it would be something different," Manjrekar lamented. 

Manjrekar on Pakistan threat

The former India batter also dismissed suggestions that Mohammed Amir and Shaheen Shah Afridi would pose a threat to the Indian batters in the clash between the two arch-rivals on June 9.

"Mohammed Amir played his last international T20 seven years back. We have no idea what his form is like today. Shaheen Afridi is not the same bowler that he was two years ago.

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"India have handled him really well, if you remember the Asia Cup, even in the 50-overs World Cup we had a one-sided match. I do not see Pakistan as a major threat to India, plus the names (of) Mohammed Amir and Shaheen Shah Afridi. I do not think this is a problem for India,” he added.

Irfan Pathan, meanwhile, termed left-arm spinner Imad Wasim as a threat.

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"As a left-arm spinner with the new ball, he is not bad. He is a smart, bowls stumps to stumps and if the ball grips then he could be a threat,” he said.

Manjrekar backs Hardik Pandya

Manjrekar backed Hardik Pandya to come good as a finisher.

"My vote will always go to Hardik Pandya. I know he had a pretty quiet IPL, but go back to the last T20 World Cup that India played, the last match, semis against England at Adelaide.

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"Hardik Pandya got 60 off 30 balls at a strike rate of 190 after India had got 62 in their first 10 overs.

"When it comes to T20 World Cup — marquee events — back those guys who actually excel on the big stage and for me it will always be Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant ahead of people like Shivam Dubey, until we see him on the big stage," he said.

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Pathan said both Pandya and Dube will have different roles in the competition.

"Hardik Pandya and Shivam Dube will play different roles. Hardik will have a set role to finish the game and Shivam will play as a floater, as a reinforcer against the spinners," he said.

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Manjrekar said India will also be cautious in the first round knowing what happened in the 50-overs World Cup in the Caribbean, wherein they had made a first-round exit in 2007.

"India will feel the pressure of the first round because (in) 2007 (in) the West Indies, funny things (had) happened. I see India up and running very quickly. (But) I'm just going to watch this Indian team in the matches that matter — semis and the finals," he said.

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"For India, World Cups are not anymore about getting into the final round. It's about what you do in the final rounds," he added.

Manjrekar also claimed that Kohli tends to bat with additional pressure in knockout games due to his stature, which is not the case with Rohit.

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"Virat does take it upon himself. You see that happening in all the big games to bat a little longer, perhaps feels obliged because of the kind of stature that he has in Indian cricket to bat longer rather than just come and bat freely," he said.

"But Rohit Sharma will do that, no matter his stature. We saw that in the ODI World Cup. But I'm worried about Virat really when it comes to semis and the finals," he added. 

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Published May 31st, 2024 at 22:04 IST