Stand-in head coach VVS Laxman on Thursday said India will be looking to pack the side with T20 specialists as it seeks course correction after yet another World Cup failure.
England, which won its second T20 World Cup title in Australia on Sunday, has set the benchmark with its fearless brand of cricket.
Speaking to media ahead of the New Zealand limited overs tour, Laxman said multi-dimensional players are the need of the hour in T20 cricket.
“In white ball cricket, you need specialist players and going forward, in T20 cricket, you will see a lot more T20 specialists. T20 cricket has shown us over the years that you need multi-dimensional cricketers,” said the current NCA chief ahead of the opening T20I on Friday.
“We have bowlers who can bat and batters who can bowl. More number of bowlers who can bat allows the team to have depth and batters to have freedom to go out and express themselves.
“I think that’s the need of hour and more and more teams will get that into their selection process and identify multi-dimensional players.” The next T20 World Cup is two years away but India will hit the reset button with the three games against New Zealand, followed by as many ODIs.
In the absence of Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya will lead the side and he is seen as the future captain of the T20 unit. Virat Kohli and K L Rahul are the other top-order batters who have been rested for the series.
“T20 cricket requires to play with a lot of freedom and clarity of thought and whatever time I have spent with these players and watch them grow in international cricket, that is their strength. “It is important to play with that freedom but also you need to assess conditions and fulfill the needs of the team,” said Laxman.
‘All players confide in Hardik’
Laxman was all praise for Hardik the leader.
“He is a fabulous leader you know. Obviously, what he has done for Gujarat Titans in his first year of captaincy, winning the IPL isn’t a mean achievement and I have spent time with him from Ireland series and not only is he tactically good, but also very calm and that is something very important when you play at the highest level.
“There will be situations when you will be under pressure and there you will require to be calm. But also his presence in dressing room and his work ethic is exemplary. Hardik is a players’ captain and is approachable and all the players go and confide in him,” said the former India batter.
The top order’s approach copped criticism in Australia and Laxman expects the likes of Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan to bat fearlessly in the absence of senior players.
“We have a top order that has capability to bat fearlessly. My message to top order is to bat fearlessly and express yourself but also change your strategy as per game situation. Yes we don’t have KL, Rohit and Virat here but who are here are also experienced enough players.” Laxman also added that the series could see the reunion of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav in the playing eleven as India aim for wickets in the middle overs.
‘India lucky to have strong bench’
Though India’s vast pool of talent has not led to a major title since 2013, Laxman feels the team is blessed to have fringe players who are ready for the highest level, allowing all format players to take rest when needed amid a packed international calendar.
“A lot of cricket is being played and there is no doubt about that and that’s why India is fortunate to have so many players to choose from.
“And as team management and selection committee members, we need to be mindful about knowing when to give certain players breaks. Breaks are important not only to get them physically rejuvenated but also mentally,” said Laxman.
A hectic schedule also means that he needs to fill in for head coach Rahul Dravid from time to time. Laxman doesn’t mind that at all.
“I don’t see any challenges as such. Even as a player when I became a senior, the mindset was all about sharing my knowledge and making sure I am very honest with whatever conversations I have with the players. Same with this short stint.” Data’s role has gained massive significance in the shortest format. Is Laxman too much into that as well? “It has played a huge part in evolution of the game. When you have so much data available you can strategies against a player whom you haven’t played earlier.
“But it’s also about executing the plans we have. Analytics is very important and getting the data, breaking it down and using it is something we will be doing going forward.
“And we are in good position to strategize against any player irrespective of whether we have played against them or played with them,” he added.