Gavaskar backs veterans Gambhir, Yuvraj and Harbhajan to make India comeback

Jan 31, 2014, 20:52 IST | PTI

Cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar warns current Team India players to not take their place for granted for 2015 World Cup

New Delhi: Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar on Friday said the current Indian team members should not take their places for granted for next year's World Cup, saying the debacle against New Zealand has left the door open for veterans and talented youngsters to force their way into the squad.

"Of course, you cannot rule out players (not in the current lot). What message are you giving to the existing players? That you can score 5, 10, or 20 with an occasional half century and stay on till World Cup next year. You can't defend the World Cup like that," Gavaskar, who opposed skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's view of carrying on with same set of players, said.

Gambhir, Yuvraj and Sehwag 
Sunil Gavaskar is confident that veterans like Virender Sehwag (left), Gautam Gambhir (centre) and yuvraj Singh (right) can return to the Team India fold. File Pic 

While he did not name anyone, Gavaskar did point out that all is not lost for the 30-plus veterans like Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh, citing the example of Aussie veteran Brad Hodge.

"I believe in horses for courses. Never mind what is the age of the player. Brad Hodge is 39 and Australia brought him back for the T20 International against England. Form and not age should be the criteria for selection. But one needs to do it now as it can get late by the time you think doing it," Gavaskar told a leading news channel after India's humiliating 0-4 ODI series loss.

The legendary opener also feels that a talented youngster can also be tried out. "When we won the World T20 in South Africa, what experience did we have of T20 cricket? Yet, we won the championship. There are times, having fresh players can help as their enthusiasm rubs off on others," Gavaskar opined.

But Gavaskar did find Amit Mishra not getting a game surprising as he thought that Mohammed Shami could have been given rest.

"Shami has been playing non-stop cricket from South Africa and could have been given rest. I was surprised that Dhoni didn't give Mishra a game. As a captain, he must have his potent reasons for not having Mishra in the playing XI. But then the question arises that if he is not good enough to be a replacement, then what exactly is he doing in the squad," Gavaskar said.

Gavaskar also noted that openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan needed to get those 60-70 run opening stand to release the pressure on the batsmen coming after them.

Should stick to Dhawan and Rohit as openers: Wasim Jaffer

Mumbai: Former Test batsman Wasim Jaffer on Friday on Friday expressed his disappointment at the way India openers performed in the last few overseas tours but said the team should stick to the same combination of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma.

"The kind of start Shikhar and Rohit provided before the start of South Africa series, I don't think people would have even thought about (having different openers for different formats). But I am sure, the conditions were different," Jaffer said when asked whether India should have different openers for different formats.

Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan 
Rohit Sharma (right) and Shikhar Dhawan. Pic/AFP 

"I am disappointed the way they have performed but I feel they should be given more opportunities, because in three or four innings, nobody becomes a good player or a bad player. We should stick to the players who are talented," the 35-year-old former India opener said.

In the ODI series in New Zealand which ended on Friday, Sharma scored 145 runs in five matches, while his partner Dhawan managed only 81 in four matches.

Jaffer said that the Indian team could have tried Ajinkya Rahane as another opener. "Rohit has got a double hundred, a few ODIs back and also a 79 in the previous game, so it is unfair (to ask someone to replace him as an opener). Ajinkya has opened all his life so probably that is an area they could have looked at, but (captain Mahendra Singh) Dhoni is far intelligent than me, so he must be thinking," he said.

After a good performance in South Africa, Rahane failed with the bat in the New Zealand ODI series with just 51 runs from five matches and Jaffer said the 25-year-old would have been disappointed.

"He got an opportunity to perform, he has had the overs to bat. It is not that he is coming in the last 10-15 overs. So, I am sure he must be disappointed," said Jaffer.

The veteran Mumbai batsman said that Cheteshwar Pujara should also be considered for the ODI squad and would fare well at the number three or four slot. 

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