Australia v India, 1st T20, Adelaide January 25, 2016

Shastri happy to have experienced hands back for T20s


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'Every T20 is now important' - Shastri

The biggest factor in India's series defeat in Australia might have been the physicality of Australia's game - running between the wickets and stronger arms from the deep - but in a game condensed to 20 overs per innings India might not need the same amounts of physical strength. Selectors world over seem to be realising that you need not look too far into the future when building T20 teams. If a player has a bit of an X-factor, he need not promise it for the next three to four years, which you want in ODIs and in Tests.

Australia have gone to Shaun Tait because he gives them the pace. It doesn't matter that he will be 33 before the World T20 starts. Forty-four-year-old Brad Hogg is always part of conversations too. India have gone back to Yuvraj Singh, Ashish Nehra and Harbhajan Singh. The youngest of them is Yuvraj at 34. India have been missing two aspects: experience with the ball and a big hitter who can go bang from ball one. For experience with seam bowling they have gone to Nehra. For big hitting they have two options: veteran Yuvraj or rookie youngster Hardik Pandya.

As India's road to World T20 begins with their three-match T20I series against Australia, team director Ravi Shastri has welcomed the experienced hands back into the squad. While he is mindful that a balance between fitness and experience needs to be maintained, he also stated the fitness demands for T20s weren't as stern. Talking about Nehra, he said: "It's also about how fit you are. Between 50 overs and 20 overs, there is a big difference, because there is 30 extra overs of fielding and six extra overs to bowl, and that can take its toll. So it's a big difference between Twenty20 cricket and 50-overs cricket. At the moment, we'll wait and see how he goes in the T20 format.

"He has got a lot of experience. I think he has played two or three World Cups, and he has played a lot of T20 cricket. They've just come back from a domestic competition [the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20s], and experience is not bought or sold in the market, so when you get it, use it.

"It's important to have the right mix of experience and youth. Like I said, there is no shortcut for experience. When it comes to the T20 format, bowling in the death - you've seen in the ODI series scores of over 300 in almost every game. Five years earlier you would have said 260. But with T20 cricket coming, the confidence of players is such that they take chances early and play the big shots. So there, as a bowler, you've got to have experience there to stop that hitting. You need that experience."

Shastri said he was hoping to see Yurvaj score big. "He's an impact player with a proven record," he said. "He has got a fabulous record in T20 cricket, he's explosive and he's a match-winner. If he fires early for us, nothing like it."

Shastri said the team won't be shy to try various combinations before the World T20: they have two T20I series and an Asia Cup before they lock in their best XV. "I think every game form here on till the World T20 will be extremely important," Shastri said. "It gives you a chance to try different players and see what combination works best for you.

"Absolutely [more significant than the ODI series]. There's no question about that. It's a lead-up to the World T20, and there's no other format of the game till we play that. It's all T20 cricket. So it gives you an ideal opportunity: playing against a really tough opposition. But at the same time it gives you a chance to see what should be your best combination.

"It's about getting the right combination for the conditions you will play in. If that means senior players have to play, they play. If that means juniors have to play, we'll have more of that. We have 16 players here, it's our job to pick the best XI."

Lower demands of fitness then might herald a comeback for R Ashwin, India's leading bowler in the last World T20, Man of the Series in their last two Test series, but dropped from the ODIs for what is widely believed to be slowness in the field and lack of big-hitting prowess. While three spinners in the final XI is more than a possibility in the World T20, it might be difficult to fit in all three in the Australian conditions though.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Gudu on January 29, 2016, 8:35 GMT

    Australia has played with second string of players. India needs a lot of improvement. They can not match full strength team of Australia.

  • Arun on January 26, 2016, 8:54 GMT

    @SAMROY: Well said :) I do not prefer Ashwin in T20s at all at 7 :(

  • Martin on January 26, 2016, 8:06 GMT

    Yuvraj, Raina, Ashwin, Dhoni are the real match winners in the squad. More than enough to crush Australia in T20. Irfan Pathan's recent form in domestic competition is good to bring him back to the national team. Also Nehra's experience will help the youngster bowlers to learn the confidence.

  • ManuJi on January 26, 2016, 6:25 GMT

    I like Yuvi and Dhoni and in Indian conditions they can still be a lethal weapon. I don't agree with one of the comments below that they are last their best - please bin that rubbish. Both these guys won't do that well in Aus but watch out for them in Asia. After all it is in India where t20 means something rest of the world is still living in denial of tests being the best cricket. T20 is the real deal and most entertaining format - if you do well in this format you will have a chance to play tests. If there is no t20 test mathches have no future

  • Dilan on January 26, 2016, 6:07 GMT

    this gon be big scoring game i am sure aus try to maximize their total with form batsmen i might add this squad raina & mishra i am not sure what form their right now but good to have in squad for india. Good luck both teams

  • J on January 26, 2016, 5:47 GMT

    @samroy - i agree with you ref dhoni missing a trick by not playing ashwin. Dhoni's poor selections and preference for certain players has been the bane of indian cricket for many years now and it is now coming back to bite us because we find that a lot of time and chances were given to players who just do not have it in them to excel in all conditions and against all teams (think jadeja, who after numerous chances has started playing one off good innings and can be quite a handfull on spinning pitches but clearly hasnt justified the numerous chances given to him). This has resulted in a situation now where we do not have a ready pipeline of players competing for spots in the team. The worst part is that dhoni is now saying that our domestic players arent the finished product/ ready for international cricket. As the captain for so many years, and considering how strong a say he had in selection matters, he ought to have addressed this issue a few years back and planned for the future.

  • sam on January 26, 2016, 4:19 GMT

    For T20s I actually prefer Axar and Bhajji over Ashwin and Jadeja as I feel they are better restrictive bowlers. In the ODIs MSD missed a trick by playing Ashwin on surfaces that didn't turn at all (Perth, Brisbane) and not playing on surfaces that actually turned a little bit (Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney). Ashwin is still our best test cricketer, our most talented test cricketer and our biggest match winner in test matches. And I believe the young Hardik Pandya has even more raw talent than Ashwin. He has a good defence; can play the drives, cuts, pulls and flicks; can be a big hitter; can bowl 140k and also is an excellent fielder. Yes he is very raw but if we nurture him like Australia are doing with Mitch Marsh and England with Ben Stokes we might get our best all-rounder since Kapil Dev.

  • J on January 26, 2016, 2:49 GMT

    Dhoni and yuvi will be badly exposed in the T20's. While dhoni has called it upon himself by not retiring even when he is clearly past his prime, i feel sad for yuvi, because he has played his heart out for the country and will unfortunately be the target of fan's abuse if he doesnt perform to expectations. It is perhaps best for legends to retire at the right time otherwise you lose the hard earned respect gained over the years. Kapil dev is the best example. He needlessly prolonged his career simply for personal records, even when it was clear that he was mediocre in his last few matches (and blocked a young srinath's place in the team). Worse, even after getting hadlee's record, kail dev did not immediately announce his retirement; instead he continued playing and finally the BCCI had to sideline him.

  • Cricinfouser on January 26, 2016, 2:46 GMT

    Its really important to sustain with Yuvraj, Nehra and Bhaji atleast for some 3,4 matches. However experienced they are, we need to give any player that room to get set in the team. As Shastri told, if they click, nothing like it. Its a gamble worth taking especially as India get to play a good number of T20s before the world cup. Nehra was better that Steyn, Boult, Johnson and Malinga for a whole IPL season. If you check the scorecard you will understand that Harbhajan was one of the better bowlers from both the sides in the recent t20s against South Africa. Yuvraj, personally I feel that for those 3 WORLD CUPs he has single handedly gifted us. He deserve to play in atleast in 2 more world cups. Also, YUVRAJ SINGH IS IN FORM!

  • HardcoreCricFan on January 25, 2016, 22:15 GMT

    baffling to see so many negative comments about Yuvi and non about MSD? whoever says Yuvi is past didn't check latest domestic performance. before you jump and say, domestic cricket is easy and doesnt matter, MSD didn't perform there too. and why d heck Raina at 4?? is he better hitter than Yuvi? at least give aa chance to Yuvi before making such comments. and if people are judging 1 bad performance of Yuvi, go and check stats about bad performance of any other player. Yuvi had once, what's count for MSD or others?

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