Sunil Gavaskar on Wednesday slammed the Indian team management for fielding an unchanged XI in the dead rubber against Afghanistan and wondered whether the “fear” of bench players succeeding over current favourites has prompted it to play the same team. Despite India being out of contention for a berth in the final of the ongoing Asia Cup, middle-order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara and pacer Ishwar Pandey were not included in the team for the inconsequential match on Wednesday.
“The only thing that comes to my mind is that there is that worry and there’s probably a fear that if these guys do well, what happens to our favourites in the team,” Gavaskar told Star Sports.
“This is what breeds complacency, guys know, kuch bhi karoon, team main hoon (whatever I do, I’m in the team). “Are you worried that Cheteshwar Pujara will score runs so that your favourites who are not consistent might have to make way? Are you worried that Ishwar Pandey will pick wickets, and again some of your favourite bowlers might not be certain of a place in the team, what are you worried about?,” the former Indian captain asked.
Gavaskar said it was hard to comprehend the Indian team’s decision. “Very hard to understand, to be honest with you, it’s baffling,” said Gavaskar. “Some of the players have been playing non-stop, they need a bit of a break before the World Twenty20 starts, the second thing is if you are not going to give the reserve players a chance, then when are they going to play,” he said.
Pandey has been a part of the ODI squad for the recent New Zealand tour and the Asia Cup, but hasn’t got a chance to play in either series, while Pujara failed to add to the two ODI caps he had earned in the low-profile Zimbabwe series last year despite India’s listless performances.
At the toss, stand-in-skipper Virat Kohli defended the decision of playing an unchanged team, saying: “It is important the team gets confidence from playing one unit, you have to be patient with this side. We are in a transition phase as far as one-dayers are concerned, we have shown great fight in this tournament, people have to be patient with us, we surely have the talent, but we will have to wait for the experience to come,” he said.