Former India batsman Dilip Vengsarkar wants the players on the white-ball tour of Sri Lanka to grab the opportunity and push their case for selection in the T20 World Cup squad. According to Vengsarkar, if the cricketers put up highly impressive performances, the selectors will be forced to consider them for the showpiece event later this year.
A limited-overs squad led by Shikhar Dhawan is in Sri Lanka to play three ODIs and three T20Is. The main Team India squad, which features most of the players likely to make the T20 World Cup team, is currently in England.
According to Vengsarkar, though, the Indian players in Sri Lanka should give it their best throughout the tour. The selectors would then be spoilt for choice when they sit to pick the team for the T20 World Cup.
Dhawan’s spot in the T20 World Cup is currently under doubt with KL Rahul the officially preferred opener alongside Rohit Sharma. Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav too are no longer certainties in the Indian team.
Speaking to the Hindustan Times, Dilip Vengsarkar said:
"I want everybody to perform. Cricket is all about opportunities and all these youngsters must grab it themselves. Not only Shikhar, but also guys like Ruturaj Gaikwad, Prithvi Shaw and all the guys that have been picked in the squad because there is going to be a lot of competition not only for the opening slot but all the positions in the team. It's always good to have options and whoever does well, I'm sure will get his due."
Dhawan led from the front in the first ODI against Sri Lanka, remaining unbeaten on 86 in a chase of 263. Earlier, Chahal and Kuldeep picked up two wickets each as India restricted Sri Lanka to 262 for 9.
Hardik Pandya bowling a big positive for India: Dilip Vengsarkar
One of the big questions for India going into the Sri Lanka series was whether all-rounder Hardik Pandya would bowl. He was seen working on his medium-pacers in the nets ahead of the series. Pandya’s inability to bowl frequently following his back surgery in 2019 has hampered India’s balance.
In the first ODI against Sri Lanka, Pandya bowled five overs and picked up one wicket while giving away 34 runs. Agreeing that the Baroda cricketer’s bowling was crucial to India’s fortunes, Dilip Vengsarkar explained:
"When any team that has a very good all-rounder at No. 6, what happens is that they can play an additional batsman, and also be a third or fourth bowling change. Hardik is a good all-rounder, and if he can hold on to his place in the team, it'll be beneficial because they can afford to play two spinners and two fast bowlers and have him as a medium-pacer option. Effectively three fast bowlers, which would add so much balance to the team.”
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India will look to seal the three-match ODI series when they face Sri Lanka in the second game on Tuesday.