12/04/2022
Former India captain Kris Srikkanth has suggested the BCCI should appoint all-rounder Hardik Pandya as Indias full-time captain in the shortest format and start rebuilding the squad for the 2024 T20 World Cup. Team India begin their preparations for the next T20 WC with the limited-overs series in New Zealand.

Rohit Sharma-led Indian side made the semi-final exit from the just-concluded T20 World Cup after suffering a heavy 10-wicket defeat from eventual champions England. It was India’s fifth knockout loss in the last six World Cups. Following India’s semi-final exit, there is a school of thought which believes the selectors should bite the hard pill and sack Rohit as T20 captain for he no longer looks in contention for the next T20 WC.

Srikkanth – who was the chairperson of the senior selection committee – said on Star Sports show ‘Match Point’, “See if I was the Chairman of the selection committee, I would say that Hardik Pandya should be the captain of the 2024 World Cup, straight away, I’d put it that way – number one. And start rebuilding a side right from today, that is from the New Zealand series which is going to happen in a week’s time. You start from today, the preparation for the World cup, you need to understand, starts 2 years in advance.”

The former India opener – who was a part of the 1983 World Cup-winning Indian side – said the team management can test some players as they have plenty of time at their disposal. “So, you do whatever you want to do, the trial and error policy, do whatever you want, try it for one year, then you form a team and by 2023 make sure this is going to be at the level that is going to play the World Cup.”

Srikkanth also suggested India should identify more fast-bowling all-rounders ahead of the 2024 edition. He even seconded former India pacer Irfan Pathan and former West Indies cricketer Ian Bishop’s opinion to include more all-rounders in the side.

“You need more fast-ball all-rounders. Let’s see, the 1983 World Cup, 2011 World Cup, and 2007 T20 World Cup, why did we win? We had many fast-ball all-rounders and semi-all-rounders. So, to identify these guys – guys like Hooda, like Hooda, there are going to be so many more Hoodas.”

Pathan, who was part of the country’s 2007 T20 World Cup-winning team, claimed India should not depend on just one captain and need to develop a group of leaders in the squad.

“I’m not saying that if you change the captain you change the result, if you go like that you’re not going to change the result. And with Hardik Pandya, you need to understand, we all need to understand, that he’s a fast bowling all-rounder. He has injury issues as well,” the left-arm pacer said.

“What if he is your captain who is getting injured right before the World cup? And if you don’t have any other leader ready, you’ll be in a mess. “So, what I personally think is that Hardik Pandya is a leader, who has done very well in the Gujarat Titians, won IPL, won the championship trophy. You need to find not one, but two leaders going forward to build their mark. You know just like we talk about openers – we need to have a group of openers, we also need to have a group of leaders.”

Speaking on the selectors making the right choices in the future and the amount of talent available in India, Bishop said, “That has always been what selection has always been about, if it was that simple of choosing the guys who are on top of the statistics, you wouldn’t need a selector. Anyone can go and make a base and make a team, but you have to see beyond the numbers, who is playing what bowling well in what conditions, who is playing the hard games. So, that’s where the real selector earns his money.”

“Look, I still think that there’s a kid called Mohsin Khan who plays in the IPL. And that’s another one that I can recall as well, there are several highly talented players who are still in the nation. I think the talent is there to win the World Cup, it’s just a matter of picking the right people at the right time, there’s just too much talent available,” the cricketer-turned-commentator said.