Former India captain Sourav Ganguly Tuesday backed Tamil Nadu all-rounder Vijay Shankar to do well in the upcoming World Cup, saying his bowling would come in handy in the English conditions.
There has been debate over Shankar being picked in the England-bound India team ahead of Ambati Rayudu, with the selectors saying they went for the “three-dimensional skills” offered by the Tamil Nadu player.
“Vijay Shankar will do well. He is a good young cricketer. His bowling will come handy. Let’s not be too negative about him. He has got a place because he has played in Australia and New Zealand and done well,” Ganguly, who is an advisor to IPL team Delhi Capitals, said.
The former skipper also said that talented Rishabh Pant, who has been ignored for this edition, should not feel depressed about his non-selection.
“Yes, Pant also could have been part of this side but he need not worry. He has many more years. He is just 20, he will play a few World Cups.”
Asked if India could go all the way with three front-line pacemen, Ganguly said that’s the way the team wants to play with an all-rounder at number 7.
“Pandya is the first choice. If he gets injured, then (Ravindra) Jadeja. That allows them to play three fast bowlers. If anybody gets injured it is just a 10-hour flight,” he added.
On the 50-overs World Cup, Ganguly said this edition could be very competitive due to the format, where all teams play each other in the league stage.
“This format was last tried in 1992 when everyone played everyone. In the past, we felt there were one or two weak ones. This time it is not so. West Indies is strong, Australia is back to where they were, New Zealand is strong, India is strong. And Pakistan played very well in England,” he added.
When asked whether Kuldeep Yadav’s loss of form during the on-going IPL was a cause for concern with the World Cup around the corner, Ganguly said the Eden Gardens strip didn’t have much in it for the spinners and backed the wrist-spinner to come back well.
“On the Edens Gardens pitch, nobody bowls well. You only see scores of 220 and 230. Just see the number of runs that have been scored. Kuldeep is a huge talent, sometimes we judge bowlers on the basis of T20 cricket which is not the best thing to do, especially with spinners. He will come back well,” the former India captain added.
The former Bengal cricketer, who has taken over as the advisor at DC this season, credited the players for the way they have performed and sealing a spot in the playoffs.
“I think a lot of credit should go the people who play in the XI. Because we guide them and try to help, try to keep them in a good frame of mind, keep the good confidence going. Even when I was the captain, it is the XI that matters. The real credit should go to the players.”
About the standout performers for the Delhi team, which has reached the playoffs after a gap of seven years, Ganguly said everyone had done well and praised Shikhar Dhawan, Kagiso Rabada, Rishabh Pant and the young captain Shreyas Iyer.
“I think everybody has played well, that’s why you get there. Shikhar has been outstanding. Rishabh Pant whenever he has got away from Delhi on good pitches, hard pitches where there is carry, he has been exceptional with the bat.
“Shreyas Iyer has been exceptional as a young captain and taken the responsibility and taken the team forward. He has been brilliant with the bat under pressure. Axar Patel, Rabada has been superb.
“Ishant Sharma has been a revelation. A lot of people felt he was a Test match bowler but to come up and do well in T20s at this stage of the career shows you can turn it on any time you want. There is nobody called test bowler, one day bowler or T20 bowler. It just how you adapt and make a difference to your own game.”
He said the team would take it game-by-game going forward in the season.
“You never know what happens, there are just 20 overs. If you make mistakes, in two-three overs the game is gone. It is not Test cricket or 50 overs where you can come back. We will take every game [as it comes] and see where we finish,” Ganguly added.