Team Director Ravi Shastri said that while “experience cannot be bought in super market” the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Ashish Nehra will play only if they fit into the combination that the team is looking for going into the ICC World T20.
India will start their preparations for the ICC World T20 with a series of matches in the shortest format starting with the three-match series against Australia, in Adelaide on Tuesday.
Asked about the senior trio in the team, Shastri sounded positive as usual.
“They are raring to go. Every match from here on until the World T20 will be extremely important. It gives us a chance to try different players and see what combination works best. It is about getting the right combination for the conditions you are playing in (Australia or at home). If it means senior players have to play they will play. Again if that means juniors have to play, that will be so. It’s about getting the combination right,” Shastri said on the eve of the opening T20 International.
The former India all-rounder agreed that a perfect combination is the blend of youth and experience.
“It is important to have the right mix of experience and youth. There is no shortcut to experience when it comes to the T20 format and bowling in the death overs. The scores in ODIs were 300-plus in every game. Five years ago 260 would have been enough here. But with T20 cricket coming in, batsmen take chances early and they play the big shots. As a bowler you have to have experience there to stop that hitting.”
Experience at the death invariably brought up Nehra’s name in the conversation and Shastri said:”Experience is not bought or sold in the market so when you get it, use it. He has got experience. He has played 2-3 World Cups if I am correct. And he has played a lot of T20 cricket. He is just coming from a domestic T20 competition at home.”
Shastri was asked whether it would have been better to have Nehra in the squad for the ODI series also but his answer made it clear that the team management was not convinced about the 36-year-old’s fitness in any format longer than T20.
“In ODIs, fitness makes a big difference than it does in T20s. You have 30 extra overs of fielding and that can take its toll. Plus there are six extra overs to bowl. So that’s a big difference, and at the moment we will just wait and see how he goes in this format.”
He called Yuvraj a game-changer and expects him to grab this opportunity that has come his way.
“Yuvraj is an impact player. He has a proven record as well as a fabulous record in T20 cricket. He is explosive and he is a match-winner. If he fires early for us, there will be nothing like it,” said Shastri.
With both Harbhajan Singh and Ravichandran Ashwin in the side, he was asked about the possible spin-bowling combination, he once again evaded giving a direct answer.
“As for the spinners, we will play horses for courses. Depending upon what the surface is offering us, will play our best combination,” Shastri said.
With the ICC World T20 starting in less than two months’ time, every match from here on will be important in the context of the mega event scheduled to be held in India.
“It is the lead-up to the World T20 and we are not even playing any other format of the game till we play the world T20. It is all T20 cricket from here onwards, so it gives us an ideal opportunity playing against a real tough opposition here.”