Ravichandran Ashwin’s late inclusion in the squad is a boon for India going into the World Cup, feels former India cricketer Sandeep Patil.
According to Patil, a member of the team that won India their maiden 50-over World Cup crown in 1983, the injury to Axar Patel turned out to be “a blessing in disguise” for Rohit Sharma and Co. as it paved the way for senior off-spinner Ashwin, who’s regarded by many as the best at present in world cricket.
Patil, who was attending the contract-signing ceremony between the East Bengal cricket team and sponsors Shrachi Group at a city hotel on Monday, said: “Ashwin’s inclusion wasn’t a surprise at all. Not at all.
“He’s the best off-spinner in world cricket today and I’m happy to see he’s in. I also feel sorry for Axar, who got injured. But then, you know, it was a blessing in disguise (for India).”
What more or less confirmed Ashwin’s selection in the final XV was his impressive bowling in the recent ODIs against Australia. He finished with four wickets from two matches in what was also his first ODI series in 20 months.
Talking further about India’s chances in this World Cup, Patil, who will also be mentoring the East Bengal cricketers, feels the hosts will be able to make the semi-finals along with England, Australia and New Zealand. “We have a fine team, great balance and the team’s in good nick and form, which is so important.
“But to sustain that for a long period is difficult. I think by mid-tournament we’ll come to know where the teams actually stand.
“Also, it’s up to Rahul (Dravid) and the team management as to how they handle the situation to ensure players deal with the pressure of playing at home. We only hope things go well and they bring back the World Cup,” the 67-year-old, who represented India in 29 Tests and 45 ODIs, said.
All-rounder Hardik Pandya, Virat Kohli and skipper Rohit could be India’s trump cards in the showpiece event, the former chief selector and head coach believes. “But it’s not an individual game, it’s a team game. And we want all of them to perform,” Patil emphasised.
“If you look at 1983, we had good all-rounders and in every match, there were different heroes and performers. If you perform as a team in every game and play the role assigned to you and shoulder the responsibilities and contribute, that can certainly make things happen.”
Patil didn’t wish to predict anything regarding the India-Pakistan marquee clash on October 14 in Ahmedabad. “It’s difficult to say now, though India have been playing consistently. But a lot also depends on the toss and the conditions,” he stated.
Like others, Patil too has high hopes for opener Shubman Gill, who’s had a fantastic year so far, especially in ODI cricket, and will play a crucial role at the top order for India. “Shubman has just started, but he has certainly proved his mettle and we hope he continues the same way. He’s emerging as one of the best opening batsmen in world cricket. So, best wishes to him.”