Ravi Shastri backs Hardik Pandya for India's T20 World Cup squad
May 12, 2023
NEW DELHI: Former India head coach Ravi Shastri is expecting a number of new faces in India's T20 World Cup squad next year with skipper Hardik Pandya having a "big say" in selection matters.
While the likes of Test and ODI captain Rohit Sharma and star batter Virat Kohli still remain in the T20 scheme of things, the phasing out process had started after a disappointing semi-final exit in last year's global meet in Australia.
"I think they will (look in new direction)," Shastri told ESPN Cricinfo.
"The T20 World Cup is coming up and there is lot of talent among youth. This year's IPL, we have seen some refreshing new talent. There will be new faces not a new team. He (Hardik) is already captain of India, so he will continue unless he is not fit," the former India all-rounder said.
Shastri feels that just like the 2007 World Cup, when India went with a relatively new team full of youngsters under Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the same would happen in the upcoming tournament.
"Now they would go the 2007 T20 World Cup route and identify talent, and he (HP) will have big choice and his ideas will be different and he would have played IPL, and seen a lot of other players as captain of IPL.
"Obviously, he is the man who is going to take these guys out on the park, no one else, so whatever he says has to be given importance," he added.
But Shastri also wants everyone to have priorities clear.
"Don't even think of T20 World Cup till ODI World Cup is over, and after that you have enough time for T20s." As far as Hardik is concerned, Shastri finds him at his decision-making best when he is fit and leading from the front.
"He is supremely confident about his own abilities and the fact that he is fit now, makes a massive difference," he said.
The IPL no doubt will determine how India's T20 resources are stacked up next year, Shastri said.
"I believe one should be captain of his state in Ranji to captain in Test matches. Similarly IPL is your biggest domestic T20 tournament.
"It is a great (platform) to test temperament of a bloke against good opposition. Quality (compared to SMAT or Hazare) here is far better and you take all that into account and see who's leading which franchise and who's doing well."
Those who know the happenings in Indian cricket are aware that the junior Pandya might never play Test cricket again as he needs to preserve his career after a major lower back surgery.
Since he now plays two formats (ODIs and T20Is), Shastri feels that even if he bowls, there won't be a lot of workload.
"Not really and I will tell you why," Shastri said when asked if Pandya's bowling workload will be key.
"October is the (ODI) World Cup. They don't play any cricket after the IPL, probably 4-5 matches. It's not that he is playing three formats. You have Test matches and the moment Test series comes, he gets a corridor of a month to rest," Shastri said.