‘Start blooding youngsters right now’ – Ravi Shastri urges India to look beyond Kohli and Rohit in T20Is
Ravi Shastri has suggested that Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma should only play Tests and ODIs going forward and that India should start drafting youngsters into the T20I setup straightaway.
With the 2024 T20 World Cup just over a year away, former India head coach Shastri has sound advice for the national team: select players based on current form in the format. Over the last two IPL seasons, a number of youngsters such as Rinku Singh, Tilak Varma, Yashavi Jaiswal and Jitesh Sharma have impressed with their big-hitting and consistency, and the 60-year-old wants India to give them enough exposure as they look to overturn the disasters of the last two editions.
In 2021, India failed to reach the semifinal of the T20 World Cup, while they huffed their way into the semis last year, where they lost to England by 10 wickets. In 2022, the team was guilty of playing batters out of position, carrying out-of-form players and not having adequate back-up when troubled with injuries. In order to avoid these mistakes, Shastri wants India to give an opportunity to the younger stars immediately as they begin their journey towards building a team for the T20 World Cup in West Indies.
Speaking on ESPNCricinfo’s Runorder show, he said, “First T20 series that comes up, play these guys [the youngsters], expose these guys. They [the selectors] should start blooding them right now. Players like Rohit and Virat Kohli, they are proven, you know what they are all about. I would go in that direction [pick IPL performers for India] so that they get the opportunities, they get the exposure, whilst you keep the Virats and the Rohits fresh for one-day cricket and Test cricket.”
Shastri also advocated selecting only in-form players for the T20 World Cup. Last year, India’s woes began at the top, with the duo of Rohit and KL Rahul only managing 116 runs and 128, respectively. The openers ended with a combined average of 20.33 with a strike rate of 113.48.
“One year is a long time. Players can be in form, the form can disappear,” he said. “You will pick the best guys at the time, and then, of course, the experience will count, fitness will count. Who is hot at the moment, who is consistent, who has got the runs and where he has got the runs.”
He also urged India to pick the “right man for the right job” and have a good mix of left-hand and right-hand batters in the top six. “It should be the right man for the right job,” Shastri said. “It shouldn’t be a guy who bats at three or four for his franchise, and suddenly you make him bat at six or open the innings when it comes to picking a team for India.
“I would like the mix of left-hand-right-hand batting combination. Just like you look for a left-armer with the ball, I would like to see left-handers there [in the top six]. You see this IPL, teams that have done well, look at the mix that they have. Look at history, it tells you that you need that right-hand left-hand combination.”
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