Mohammad Azharuddin: Ashwin is someone who should be in the team; it is not very easy to line up against him
In India’s playing eleven for the ODI World Cup, former captain Mohammad Azharuddin can only see Shreyas Iyer, and he also supported a possible last-minute addition of R Ashwin to the 15-man squad while Azhar feels the Indian team will undoubtedly feel the burden of not having been able to prevail in knockout matches for the last ten years.
In India’s playing eleven for the ODI World Cup, former captain Mohammad Azharuddin can only see Shreyas Iyer, and he also supported a possible last-minute addition of R Ashwin to the 15-man squad.
With Iyer, Ishan Kishan, and Suryakumar Yadav staking a claim for one spot, India is faced with a problem of plenty in the middle. Iyer, who had been India’s designated number four batsman before a back problem forced him to miss six months of the game, scored an aggressive hundred in Indore to edge out Kishan and Suryakumar for the middle-order race.
“Good competition always brings the best out of the players. Shreyas is an exciting player and he really batted well the other day after losing out on games due to his back issues. He is very positive with his intent and looks to score all the time.”
“He can make a big impact in the game. It is very hard to look past him unless you are looking for a left-hander in the middle, then Ishan comes into the picture. However, I feel Shreyas has done enough,”Azhar told PTI on Wednesday.
Ashwin, who had only featured in two ODIs since 2017 before being selected for the ODI series against Australia, is expected to take Axar Patel’s place in the squad if the latter doesn’t recover fully from injury.
He performed admirably in the first two ODIs, before being rested for the last game in Rajkot.
“Ashwin is someone who should be in the team. It is not very easy to line up against him as he has got a lot of variations. The team has already been announced. It remains to be seen whether Axar is in there or not.”
“Instead of two left-arm spinners, Ashwin can also bat well, he should find a place,”said Azhar, who captained India in three World Cups.
Although Shardul Thakur has performed well when given the opportunity, the 60-year-old feels that Mohammad Shami should be chosen over the former in the playing eleven because of his superior skills.
The recent selection showed that the management is still undecided about the fast bowling combination. Mohammad Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah enter the playing eleven.
“Shami has been doing well for a long time. Shardul too has done alright in the limited chances he has got. But you don’t require everyone to bat in the 11. Shami has also batted well at times.
“Shardul is a bowling all-rounder, not a batting all-rounder. When you already have Haridk Pandya you don’t need Shardul in the playing eleven,”he said.
He has chosen Shubman Gill as the Indian player to keep an eye on rather than Rohit Sharma or Virat Kohli.
Gill has been in outstanding form over the past 12 months and has scored five ODI hundreds this year.
“This time, Gill will be the main player for India. Obviously, the others around him are also batting well. If he can give India a good start it will set the ball rolling,”said Azhar.
‘Pressure will be on India’
However, India hasn’t won an ICC tournament since 2013; Azhar believes the team will undoubtedly feel the burden of not having been able to prevail in knockout matches for the last ten years.
“It is going to be a very competitive World Cup. India has a very good team. Grounds will be full as India is hosting after a long time.”
Asked if India is peaking at the right time following the Asia Cup title and series win over Australia, Azhar said:
“I really don’t understand this peaking business. When you are playing you are playing well, doesn’t matter whether you are peaking or not peaking.
“Sometimes you lose two or three matches even after peaking and that has happened with this team. Rather than thinking about all of this, one should focus on the game, rather than thinking about semis and finals straightaway.
“Yes, there will be a lot of pressure to win an ICC tournament which we have not won for a long time. I am sure the boys are fully aware of that,”he said.
His home city of Hyderabad will be one of the 10 venues where the World Cup games will be played. But Azhar is unhappy that Hyderabad would not host an India game.
“I would be happy if India were playing in Hyderabad. The matter should have been discussed with the BCCI. I don’t know what happened there. Hyderabad also deserved a big game like India and Pakistan,”said the former president of the Hyderabad Cricket Association.
The high-octane clash of the World Cup between Pakistan and India will be played on October 14 in Ahmedabad while the fans are eagerly waiting for this clash.
India squad for World Cup: Rohit Sharma (c), Hardik Pandya (vc), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Axar Patel, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav.
Pakistan squad for World Cup: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Abdullah Shafique, Mohammad Rizwan, Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmed, Salman Ali Agha, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Wasim.