Former India head coach Ravi Shastri suggested on Thursday that appointing a separate captain in the T20 format would cause “no harm” and named star all-rounder Hardik Pandya as the ideal candidate for the role. In the absence of regular skipper Rohit Sharma, Hardik will lead India in the three-match T20I series in New Zealand beginning Friday.
“For T20 cricket, there is no harm in having a new captain,” Shastri told reporters ahead of the first T20I in New Zealand.
He added: “Because the volume of cricket is such, that for one player to play all three formats of the game is never going to be easy. If Rohit is already leading in Tests and ODIs, there is no harm in identifying a new T20I captain, and if his name is Hardik Pandya, so be it.”
Following yet another disappointing result at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia, there have been questions around the future of the team and the vision of the Indian think-tank going forward.
Stand-in head coach and NCA head VVS Laxman stated on Thursday that India will aim to identify T20 specialists as it seeks to rectify its course. Shastri agreed, saying that the likes of Shubman Gill, Umran Malik, Ishan Kishan, and Sanju Samson should be given a longer rope especially because the senior players have been rested against New Zealand.
Shastri said, “There’s an opportunity with this team in the future to identify roles for players, identify match-winners, and go pretty much on the template of England. They are one team that really caught the bull by the horns after the 2015 World Cup. They sat down and said they are going to identify the best players for that format of the game - whether it’s T20 or 50-over cricket.”
He added, “Which meant that if they are some senior players, and have to sit out, so be it. And they got in youngsters who were fearless, and could adapt to that pattern of the game. It’s a template that can be followed easily, India has got a wealth of resources and it can start from this tour. It’s a fresh young side, you can identify, groom this team.”
Lack of exposure
Another reason being attributed to India’s lack of trophies to show in the T20 format is the lack of participation of Indian players in foreign T20 leagues. For instance, Alex Hales and Jos Buttler’s experience playing in the Big Bash League helped them utilise the Australian conditions on offer.
Former India pacer Zaheer Khan and Shastri, however, believe that India’s existing T20 structure is robust and efficient enough to produce results.
Zaheer said, “I feel there are a lot of processes in place. It’s not about playing only franchise cricket, it’s about going to different countries to learn things. That is very important and BCCI with its shadow tours, that process is well in place. I don’t see any other reason for players to go and play in a particular tournament.”
He added: “You already have robust structure, why depend on others... We have more than enough means to produce good players and you look at our bench strength. You can virtually play three line ups and they can compete at any level.
Shastri, on this topic, said, “There is enough domestic cricket for all these players to get absorbed in the system and get an opportunity. Plus you get India A tours and all other tours where at one given time two Indian teams will be playing in the future and the opportunity will come for the other lot to go somewhere else whilst India is in some other country to go play.”
“There is no need, they are absolutely fine playing IPL and focusing on domestic cricket, we need them to play domestic cricket in India as well,” he added.