“Trusting Seniors Hasn’t Worked…”: Ex-India Star Drops ‘Rohit Sharma-Virat Kohli’ Bombshell

Former cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar says he would have picked a much younger Indian squad for the T20 World Cup since loading the side with seniors has not worked in the past. Manjrekar said now India have no other choice but to pair Rohit Sharma with Virat Kohli for opening slot when he would have preferred to add the flavour of young and talented Yashaswi Jaiswal. Rohit and Kohli did not feature in much of the T20 assignments for India last year but returned to the fold as selectors showed faith in the seasoned campaigners.

“Ideally, I would not have gone that way; I would have stuck with a slightly more younger kind of, core set of players but the selectors have committed themselves to the icons, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli,” Manjrekar said on Star Sports’ Press Room World Cup edition on Friday.

“Now that they are in the squad, it’s impossible to have Virat Kohli batting at No. 3 because then you don’t get the full rally of Virat. Rohit Sharma has to open, so now, India in a way have forced themselves to have only one kind of combination — two right-handers,” he said.

Manjrekar does not think Jaiswal would find place in the Indian XI.

“Unfortunately, Jaiswal will have to sit out. I would have gone completely with a new lot (and) then he would have had a lot more flair and it would be something different,” he said.

“(But) India have trusted the seniors a move that hasn’t worked over the years let’s hope it works this time,” Manjrekar added.

The former India batter also dismissed suggestions that Mohammed Amir and Shaheen Shah Afridi would pose a threat to the Indian batters in the clash between the two arch-rivals on June 9.

“Mohammed Amir played his last international T20 seven years back. We have no idea what his form is like today. Shaheen Afridi is not the same bowler that he was two years ago.

“India have handled him really well, if you remember the Asia Cup, even in the 50-overs World Cup we had a one-sided match. I do not see Pakistan as a major threat to India, plus the names (of) Mohammed Amir and Shaheen Shah Afridi. I do not think this is a problem for India,” he added.

Irfan Pathan, meanwhile, termed left-arm spinner Imad Wasim as a threat.

“As a left-arm spinner with the new ball, he is not bad. He is a smart, bowls stumps to stumps and if the ball grips then he could be a threat,” he said.

Manjrekar backed Hardik Pandya to come good as a finisher.

“My vote will always go to Hardik Pandya. I know he had a pretty quiet IPL, but go back to the last T20 World Cup that India played, the last match, semis against England at Adelaide.

“Hardik Pandya got 60 off 30 balls at a strike rate of 190 after India had got 62 in their first 10 overs.

“When it comes to T20 World Cup — marquee events — back those guys who actually excel on the big stage and for me it will always be Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant ahead of people like Shivam Dubey, until we see him on the big stage,” he said.

Pathan said both Pandya and Dube will have different roles in the competition.

“Hardik Pandya and Shivam Dube will play different roles. Hardik will have a set role to finish the game and Shivam will play as a floater, as a reinforcer against the spinners,” he said.

Manjrekar said India will also be cautious in the first round knowing what happened in the 50-overs World Cup in the Caribbean, wherein they had made a first-round exit in 2007.

“India will feel the pressure of the first round because (in) 2007 (in) the West Indies, funny things (had) happened. I see India up and running very quickly. (But) I’m just going to watch this Indian team in the matches that matter — semis and the finals,” he said.

“For India, World Cups are not anymore about getting into the final round. It’s about what you do in the final rounds,” he added.

Manjrekar also claimed that Kohli tends to bat with additional pressure in knockout games due to his stature, which is not the case with Rohit.

“Virat does take it upon himself. You see that happening in all the big games to bat a little longer, perhaps feels obliged because of the kind of stature that he has in Indian cricket to bat longer rather than just come and bat freely,” he said.

“But Rohit Sharma will do that, no matter his stature. We saw that in the ODI World Cup. But I’m worried about Virat really when it comes to semis and the finals,” he added.

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