The more the merrier. That is the view of former India head coach Ravi Shastri when it comes to the all-rounders in India squad for the 2023 ODI World Cup.
When asked of his opinion with regards to the 15-player squad India would go with in the marquee event, Shastri told Star Sports, “I think to be fair, I will go with both the all-rounders – Axar and Shardul, it gives me an opportunity. And keep Sanju Samson on standby in case something happens to the keeper there, where he can just fly out.”
Furthermore, the former India all-rounder who was part of the 1983 World Cup winning squad, also pressed on the need for having more pacers in the squad.
“So, now you start with the pacers because, for me, the pacers are important. If you need four over there, you already have one all-rounder (Pandya). So, if Bumrah is fit, he walks in. Shami walks in – that’s two. You’ve got Siraj as a backup, and if needed, Shardul can be there. Shardul has done well in the West Indies one-day game; he can be a backup. And then you have room for one more,” he added.
Thakur was the leading wicket taker in the ODI series against the West Indies with eight scalps to his name in three outings. The 31-year-old’s knack for nabbing wickets at crucial junctures isn’t the only trait that makes his case for the home World Cup. Since his heroics with the bat in the 2021 Gabba Test, Thakur’s ability to score runs across formats makes for a strong CV.
What does history say?
Former chief of selectors Sandeep Patil also agreed to Shastri’s viewpoint. “I will go with what Ravi said because I want to remember 1983. The combination we had, we had many all-rounders in the team, and having all-rounders in the team gives you so much variety, and you can choose anybody,” he told Star Sports.
In a more recent case study, for India’s 2011 ODI World Cup campaign, while Yuvraj Singh was the only designated all-rounder who was a regular feature of the XI, the presence of Yusuf Pathan and Suresh Raina, who could roll their arms gave India more options in home conditions.
With run scoring pitches at hand, having depth in the batting order as well as abundance of bowling options is likely to prove advantageous again for the home side.