Hardik Pandya

Ravi Shastri backs Hardik Pandya to become India's full-time T20I captain

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Former India coach Ravi Shastri believes that there is "no harm" if the Indian selectors and team management decide to explore the option of having Hardik Pandya as India's full-time T20I captain.

The senior players have been rested after the T20 World Cup and Pandya is already leading India in the ongoing T20I series against New Zealand. This is his third stint as the India captain after taking up the job for the first time during the T20Is against Ireland earlier this year. 

Pandya also led the Gujarat Titans to the IPL title in their maiden season earlier this year and Shastri believes it will work quite well for India to have someone young and confident like him leading India in this format.

"For T20 cricket, there is no harm in having a new captain," Shastri told select media during an interaction facilitated by Prime Video ahead of the first T20I in Wellington on Friday. 

"Because the volume of cricket is such, that for one player to play all three formats of the game is never going to be easy. If Rohit is already leading in Tests and ODIs, there is no harm in identifying a new T20I captain and if his name is Hardik Pandya, so be it."

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Match Highlights: England beat India by a resounding 10 wickets to seal a meeting with Pakistan in the final of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022.

VVS Laxman, who has taken up the mantle of the coach in absence of Rahul Dravid for this New Zealand tour, had said during a media interaction on the eve of the match that India need to select specialist players for specific roles to succeed in this format going forward, even if it means keeping certain senior players out. India succumbed to a heavy 10-wicket loss against England in the semi-final of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup. 

Shastri echoed Laxman's thoughts and stressed on the necessity of having specialists in this format again.

"I think that is the way forward," Shastri said. "I think VVS is right. They will identify specialists. Going forward, that should be the mantra. Identify and make that Indian side into a terrific fielding side and identify roles for these youngsters who can be fearless and play that kind of cricket without any kind of baggage."

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The former India coach also said that India needs to emulate England's white-ball cricket formula to succeed in the shortest format.

"I wouldn't like to point out anything, but there's an opportunity with this team in the future to identify roles for players, identify match-winners, and go pretty much on the template of England," he said. "They are one team that really caught the bull by the horns after the 2015 World Cup. They sat down and said they are going to identify the best players for that format of the game - whether it's T20 or 50-over cricket.

"Which meant if there were certain senior players who had to sit out, then so be it. They got in youngsters who were fearless, who could adapt to that pattern of the game without having to change their games too much. So it's a template that can be followed easily; India have got a wealth of resources. And I think it can start from this tour. Because when you look at this team, it's a fresh, young side. You can identify, you can groom, and you can take this team ahead in two years' time."

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Shastri also went on to show support for Umran Malik, who he believes is going to be a real asset for Indian cricket going forward. Malik also made his debut in the T20Is against Ireland and he will be looking to impress once again in this tour of New Zealand. 

"He is one of the fastest bowlers in India and you saw what happened in the World Cup where genuine pace rattled opposition, whether it was Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah or Anrich Nortje. So, there is no substitute for genuine pace, even if you are defending small totals. So this is an opportunity for Umran. Hopefully, he will learn from this exposure," Shastri said.


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