As the Shikhar Dhawan-led Indian team gears up for the white-ball series against Sri Lanka starting July 13, there have been speculations about whether the series could influence India’s selection for the upcoming T20 World Cup later this year.
Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar doesn’t think so. “The T20 World Cup squad is somewhat finalised. India’s T20 team is in a good space. This will be India’s strongest T20 World Cup squad. The series won’t be a game changer, only a reaffirmation,” Manjrekar said at a media interaction on Thursday organised by the Sony Pictures Sports Network .
India has fielded a young team for the series as most of the senior players are in the UK for a five- match Test series against England, starting August 4.
Manjrekar believes right-hand batsman Suryakumar Yadav is one of the frontrunners for the No.3 spot in the T20I team, especially if Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli decide to open the batting.
“Rarely seen somebody bat like this for a whole season. At No.3 he can hit even the good balls for fours,” Manjrekar said.
Following their impressive showing in this year’s IPL, Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw are expected to open the batting in the Sri Lanka series. While commending Shaw for his performance, former India skipper Ajay Jadeja picked Devdutt Padikkal over him. He added that Dhawan will not have much of a say in selection and the selectors will call the shots.
“I was surprised about the captain being announced, I am not so sure about the thought process. Shikhar is no spring chicken, you can’t put him on trial anymore. He has been around for so long that you’re not even preparing him to be the next captain.”
Manjrekar picked Ishan Kishan over Sanju Samson as wicketkeeper, especially in the ODIs, because he was the more consistent batsman amongst the two. “Keeping in ODIs is not as crucial as it is in Tests and T20s,” he added.
Acknowledging left-arm pacer Chetan Sakariya’s talent, Jadeja warned against rushing the 23-year-old onto the international stage. “If you play him only if you believe in him, then you’ll go with him even if he has a couple of bad games. Otherwise, you’re not selecting, you’re only rejecting people.”
The series will be crucial for Manish Pandey and Kuldeep Yadav, who are trying to stage a comeback to the national side after a string of poor performances, and all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who is expected to return to bowling after a back surgery.
“There is a lot of batting talent in the country. Manish Pandey has not been consistent. There is no one else to be blamed,” Manjrekar said.
“With Chahar, Chahal and Varun in the side, his work is cut-out,” Manjrekar said when asked about Yadav’s prospects of returning to the team. “Hardik is capable of playing as a specialist batter in the team, he proved that in Australia”, he added.
The young Indian side will be coached by Rahul Dravid, who is credited for his work with the national U-19 cricket team. “If you lay the foundation right, it becomes easier to progress. Rahul will instil the discipline required at that age,” former Sri Lanka captain Aravinda de Silva said.
De Silva dispelled his former captain Arjuna Ranatunga’s comments about India sending a “second string” side. He said that sending a different squad was probably “a rotation policy method for the future,” considering the toll bio-secure bubbles have taken on youngsters and officials amid the pandemic.
Watch the first ODI on July 18 LIVE on Sony Ten 1 and Sony Six in English and on Sony Ten 3 in Hindi from 2.30pm IST
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