Yuvraj Singh on Tuesday slammed the Indian team management for the country’s World Cup ouster in the semi-finals against New Zealand, saying that they got their planning wrong.
Pre-tournament favourites India went into the World Cup without settling the number No 4 spot and it affected the team as Virat Kohli’s men made a semi-final exit from the marquee event.
“In this World cup, they dropped [Ambati] Rayudu and then Vijay Shankar, who had some injury and then Rishabh Pant came in. I have nothing against them but both played five ODI games, I mean how do you expect a guy with very little experience to win you big matches?” Yuvraj said.
He added, “My issue is what the think-tank was doing. Dinesh Karthik was going through the tournament and suddenly he plays the semi-finals and a guy like MS Dhoni is batting at No 7. It was all so hotchpotch. You can’t do that in such big matches. You have to be sure.
“Your No 4 batsman had a highest score of 48, so I thought the planning was really poor, because they were thinking that Rohit [Sharma] and Virat [Kohli] are in good form but teams don’t win like that. If you look at Australia, their 2003, 2011 and 2015 World Cup-winning teams had set batsmen, so I thought the planning was completely wrong.”
Rayudu was earmarked for India’s number four slot after some fine performances in Asia Cup last year. However, he was dropped from the World Cup squad following an ordinary series against Australia at home.
Yuvraj, who had announced his retirement from international cricket in June this year, was unhappy with the way the team management handled Rayudu’s case in the lead up to the World Cup.
“I was very disappointed with what happened with Rayudu. He was our No 4 batsman for more than a year. Even in New Zealand, in the last game, I think he got 90 and won the Man of the Match. And then you’re playing Australia and going to the World Cup,” he said.
He added: “When we were going to play the 2003 World Cup, the team that played the tournaments in the lead-up, We almost played with the same team. We had decent experience: Mohammad Kaif and I had played about 35-40 games. Our top-order was highly experienced and the middle order was decently experienced.”
Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh believed a lot of players who were part of the 2011 World Cup could have played the next edition in 2015.
“Many players from the 2011 World Cup team could have played the next World Cup. Players such Yuvraj, me, Viru [Virender Sehwag] and Gautam Gambhir certainly [could have been picked]. But I didn’t know what was the agenda behind leaving us all aside,” he said.
“It was like ‘your work is done, leave now so that we can make a new team’. Why do you need a new team? You need it when the team has not won. We won the World Cup and you should take the team forward.”
Harbhajan stressed on the need to have experienced players in the side. “Yuvi said that you can’t have too many young players and expect them to win the World Cup. You have to have experience in the side to make sure that even when the crunch situation comes, they can make the right decision and do the needful for the team to win the World Cup.
“So basically, I don’t know what was the agenda, what was the motive? And whose was it? I don’t know. There are things which have been going on in Indian cricket and I think this has to change. I mean, if you have done something for Indian cricket, you need to be respected. A lot of players have left with angst.”
The 39-year-old off-spinner rued the fact that he could not play more matches for India. “My last four years have gone similarly, I believe I could have played more Tests and also other formats. If I can take more wickets in IPL then the other spinners than focus should have been on my work and not on my age,” he said.