The Indian squad is packed with quality players but either wrist spinner Yuzvendra Chahal or Washington Sundar should have found place in the home team’s line-up, reckons 2011 World Cup hero Yuvraj Singh.
All-rounder Axar Patel was ruled out of the global event due to quadriceps tear and the management replaced him with senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
Ashwin was summoned for the ODI series against Australia and eventually he was included in the final 15-man squad as Chahal and Washington miss out.
”I personally feel the only miss in this side is Yuzvendra Chahal. I think the only aspect that is missing from this team is a leg-spinner,” Yuvraj told PTI in an exclusive interview. ”I was very keen to see Washington Sundar in the side if we are not picking up Yuzi. But maybe the team wanted an experienced bowler, so that is why I think they went with R Ashwin,” said one of India’s greatest ODI cricketers.
Yuvraj spoke on the sidelines of an event, organised by Vicks, to release the World Cup anthem.
The performance of Jasprit Bumrah will have a massive bearing on India’s campaign in the World Cup at home, felt former India batter.
Bumrah returned to the Indian side during the T20I series against Ireland recently after a long injury lay-off and he also produced intense efforts in the Asia Cup.
”Jasprit is a match-winner, like Zak (Zaheer Khan) did for us back in 2011. What makes Jasprit a threat is he has skill and pace. He is an asset to the team.
”To make a comeback from the back injury at this stage is quite big too. As a team you feel confident to have bowlers like that, they win you matches from any situation.” Yuvraj, who was the player of the tournament during the 2011 World Cup, was pleased to see the growing maturity of Bumrah as a cricketer. ”Bumrah has matured in the last couple of years, he has captained India and has become a smart bowler. Rohit knows how to use him wisely, especially because he has captained Bumrah in the Mumbai Indians,” said Yuvraj.
”The advantage with Bumrah is that initially he can get wickets with pace but when he starts going for runs, his skillset will come into play. There will be days when you will win a game after scoring 300 or 350-plus but these kinds of bowlers like Bumrah are needed to defend scores like 250s and 260s,” he said.
The 41-year-old was also chuffed to see the form of India’s middle-order batters.
”It is a good thing that all our middle-order batters – KL (Rahul), Ishan (Kishan) and Shreyas Iyer – are in good form. But the team management needs to decide the 11 and combination ahead of the tournament that will give the team a settled look,” he said.
Yuvraj knows a thing or two about winning the World Cup as he was a part of India’s triumphant sides in 2007 (T20 WC) and 2011 (50-over WC).
He said India had started their preparation for the 2011 World Cup the moment Gary Kirsten joined the team as the head coach.
”We started planning for the World Cup from the day Gary came on board. The first step was to get to the No. 1 ranking in all formats – whether it is ODI cricket or Tests. When the World Cup came, we had a lot of players who were at the peak of their careers. The younger generation too had matured. So, it became a complete team effort,” he said.
On personal front, Yuvraj was battling injuries and other health issues, which was later diagnosed as cancer, ahead of the 2011 big bash.
So, how did he manage to rise above those obstacles? ”I was battling injuries ahead of the World Cup…neck, fingers…and other health-related issues as I was not able to breathe properly. I had to put aside all of those things and concentrate on one goal, which is the World Cup.
”When you were playing in a physical state like that, you had to put the body on the line. I think to win a World Cup after 28 years, an effort like that was needed.” India had then won a 50-over World Cup, their second, after a gap of nearly three decades, and Yuvraj hoped that Rohit Sharma and his bunch would end India’s 12-year wait for a third trophy at home next month.
”I love these guys as I get along with every one of them and I have also played with some of them. I feel that Virat and Rohit deserve a World Cup. So, everyone needs to put their body on the line for such a big stage,” he said.
Yuvraj also advised the present bunch to stay away from distractions during the World Cup. ”I would tell them to stay away from distractions for the next 40 or 45 days…media, friends and everything. They need to focus on the game exclusively. Sachin paaji (Tendulkar) used to tell us that,” he signed off.