T20 WC 2024: Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma should open, says Sanjay Manjrekar; Hardik Pandya wins praise

However, the presence of senior players like Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli in the team is making former Indian cricketer and renowned commentator Sanjay Manjrekar unhappy. He said he would have picked a much younger Indian squad.

Manjrekar says India now has no other choice but to pair Rohit Sharma with Virat Kohli for the opening slot. Kohli and Rohit did not feature in much of India’s T20 assignments in 2023, but they returned as selectors showed faith in the seasoned campaigners.

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“Ideally, I would not have gone that way; I would have stuck with a slightly more younger kind of, core set of players, but the selectors have committed themselves to the icons, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli,” PTI quoted Manjrekar as saying on Star Sports’ Press Room World Cup edition on Friday.

“Now that they are in the squad, it’s impossible to have Virat Kohli batting at No. 3 because then you don’t get the full rally of Virat. Rohit Sharma has to open, so now, India, in a way, have forced themselves to have only one kind of combination — two right-handers,” he said.

According to him, Yashasvi Jaiswal would find a place in the Indian XI.

“Unfortunately, Jaiswal will have to sit out. I would have gone completely with a new lot (and) then he would have had a lot more flair, and it would be something different,” he said.

“(But) India have trusted the seniors, a move that hasn’t worked over the years. Let’s hope it works this time,” Manjrekar added.

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Manjrekar On Pakistan:

Commenting on the Pakistani team, Manjrekar dismissed suggestions that Mohammed Amir and Shaheen Shah Afridi would pose a threat to the Indian batters.

“Mohammed Amir played his last international T20 seven years back. We have no idea what his form is like today. Shaheen Afridi is not the same bowler that he was two years ago,” he said.

“India have handled him really well. If you remember the Asia Cup, even in the 50-overs World Cup, we had a one-sided match. I do not see Pakistan as a major threat to India, plus the names (of) Mohammed Amir and Shaheen Shah Afridi. I do not think this is a problem for India,” he added.

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Meanwhile, Irfan Pathan termed left-arm spinner Imad Wasim as a threat.

“As a left-arm spinner with the new ball, he is not bad. He is a smart, bowls stumps to stumps and if the ball grips, then he could be a threat,” he said.

Manjrekar on Hardik Pandya and Shivam Dube:

Manjrekar supported Hardik Pandya to come good as a finisher.

“My vote will always go to Hardik Pandya. I know he had a pretty quiet IPL, but go back to the last T20 World Cup that India played, the last match, semis against England at Adelaide. Hardik Pandya got 60 off 30 balls at a strike rate of 190 after India had got 62 in their first 10 overs,” he said.

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“When it comes to T20 World Cup — marquee events — back those guys who actually excel on the big stage and for me it will always be Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant ahead of people like Shivam Dubey, until we see him on the big stage,” he said.

Pathan on Hardik Pandya and Shivam Dube:

However, Pathan opined that Pandya and Dube will have different roles in the competition.

“Hardik Pandya and Shivam Dube will play different roles. Hardik will have a set role to finish the game and Shivam will play as a floater, as a reinforcer against the spinners,” he said.

Manjrekar on Kohli, Rohit:

Commenting on Kohli and Rohit, Manjrekar noted that Kohli tends to bat with additional pressure in knockout games due to his stature, which is not the case with Rohit.

“Virat does take it upon himself. You see that happening in all the big games to bat a little longer, perhaps feels obliged because of the kind of stature that he has in Indian cricket to bat longer rather than just come and bat freely,” he said.

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“But Rohit Sharma will do that, no matter his stature. We saw that in the ODI World Cup. But I’m worried about Virat really when it comes to semis and the finals,” he added.

India T20 World Cup squad:

Top 15: Rohit Sharma (c), Hardik Pandya, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, and Mohd. Siraj.

Reserves: Shubman Gill, Rinku Singh, Khaleel Ahmed, and Avesh Khan.

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Published: 31 May 2024, 08:08 PM IST

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