Former India head coach Ravi Shastri disagreed with suggestions that the time has come for Indian players to take part in other franchise leagues apart from the IPL. According to Shastri, Indian cricketers have enough opportunities to grow - be it in the IPL, domestic cricket, or A tours - and do not need to play in other T20 leagues.
In the wake of India’s inability to win the T20 World Cup 2022, despite possessing the most lucrative T20 league in the world, some overseas former cricketers and analysts reckon that Indian cricket is falling behind due to their overdependence on the IPL.
At a press conference on Thursday, November 17, Shastri was asked for his views on the much-debated topic. Making his thoughts crystal clear, he replied:
“There is enough domestic cricket for all these players to get absorbed in the system and get an opportunity. Plus, you get these India A tours. You get a lot of these other tours when at one given time you might have two Indian teams playing in the future.
“They are absolutely fine playing IPL cricket and focusing on domestic cricket. We need them to play domestic cricket in India as well."
Former Indian pacer Zaheer Khan also shared similar views. According to him, it’s not about playing franchise cricket only but about going to different countries to learn things. Zaheer feels that the BCCI is doing a good job in that context and elaborated:
“You have seen with BCCI, with their shadow tours, I think the process is well in place. I don’t see any other reason right now for players to go and play in a particular tournament. What you have right now - domestic cricket - is also a robust structure. Why depend on others? We have more than enough means for producing good players.
“You look at our bench strength as well. That’s a classic example of seeing things. You can play virtually three line-ups and they will be able to compete at any level. We should focus on our country rather than looking outside.”
Ironically, India have not won the T20 World Cup since the start of the IPL. Their only triumph in the event came in the inaugural edition in 2007, a year before the launch of the Indian T20 league.
Following the conclusion of the T20 World Cup 2022, India’s focus will now shift to preparations for the 2024 T20 World Cup. Stand-in head coach VVS Laxman recently stated that the T20 format will see more specialists going forward. Agreeing with the suggestion, Shastri chipped in:
“I think that’s the way forward. VVS is right. They will identify specialists, especially with youngsters. Going forward, that should be the mantra. Identify (players) and make that Indian team into a terrific fielding side.
"And, of course, identify roles for these youngsters, who could be fearless and go out there and play that kind of cricket without any baggage whatsoever.”
India’s first T20I assignment following the World Cup will be a white-ball tour of New Zealand, which begins with the first T20I on Friday, November 18, in Wellington.
“It will be a good exposure for him” - Zaheer Khan on Umran Malik being picked for India's tour of New Zealand
Asked about India’s bowling combination for the New Zealand series, Zaheer stated that the visitors would look to go in with four fast-bowling options. He opined:
“There is definitely going to be four seam options I think, looking at the conditions and over the years whatever we have seen in New Zealand conditions. Most of the pitches will assist fast bowling and that should be the base thought process.”
He also named young fast bowler Umran Malik as someone who has a good chance to learn and grow on the tour. Zaheer concluded:
“I think the youngster Umran, it will be a good exposure for him. Looking at the conditions and how it can groom you as a bowler, Umran is someone who has got a great opportunity through this tour.”
Umran has played three T20Is for India, claiming two wickets at an average of 56 and an economy rate of 12.44.
Watch the India tour of New Zealand live and exclusive on Prime Video from Nov 18 - Nov 30. The T20Is on 18th, 20th and 22nd November begin 11 am, and ODIs on 25th, 27th and 30th November begin 6 am.
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