India is a serious challenger for 2024 T20 World Cup title: Ravi Shastri

MUMBAI: Former head coach Ravi Shastri on Monday backed India as a "serious challenger" in next year's T20 World Cup but said what matters for a dominant side is to come out winners in the last two knock-out games of any big event.

It has been more than a week since Australia trumped India, in what turned out to be a one-sided final in Ahmedabad, with the country's cricket fraternity still reeling with the outcome, given that the hosts had a 10-match unbeaten run into the title clash.

"Nothing comes easy even the great man Sachin Tendulkar had to wait (for) six World Cups to win one. You don't win (a) World Cup (easily), to win a World Cup you have got to be damn good on that big day," Shastri said during the registration launch of the Indian Street Premier League here.

"What you do earlier does not count, on that big day, that is when you rise to the occasion. Even before the start of the tournament you knew that, what happens (in terms of the format).

'Early doors (are there), (and) once top four teams are there, in the semifinal and final. Those two days if you perform, you win. And those were the two days when Australia performed when they came from nowhere," said the former India skipper.

"They lost the first two, but on the D-day, the two days, they did," Shastri said about Australia, who won the 50-overs World Cup title for a record sixth time.

Shastri said India have found a nucleus of young players ahead of next year's T20 World Cup, to be played in the Caribbean and the USA from June 4 next year.

"It was heartbreaking but (a) lot of our guys will learn, the game moves on, (and) I see India winning a World Cup very soon," Shastri said.

"It might not be a 50-overs (one) that easily because you have to rebuild the side, but 20-overs cricket, the very next one India will be very serious challengers because you have got the nucleus, this is a shorter format of the game. Your focus should be on that." Shastri admitted that it still hurts to recall that India, who were the strongest team in the competition, did not deliver in the final.

"It was fabulous," Shastri said, recalling India's campaign.

"To be honest, it still hurts from the outside, that we could not win the cup because we were the strongest team." With the Indian bowlers performing in unison led by Mohammed Shami, who claimed 24 wickets, Shastri said it gave India the 'best chance'.

"The way the bowling stood up towards the mid stage of the tournament you thought they had a great, great chance," he said.


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