As the anticipation for the 2023 ODI World Cup continues to build, former India head coach Ravi Shastri has weighed in with a valuable perspective on squad composition. Shastri, who was a key member of India’s triumphant 1983 World Cup-winning squad, emphasized the importance of having a diverse set of all-rounders in the team for the upcoming marquee event.
In a conversation with Star Sports, Ravi Shastri articulated his stance, stating, “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.”
Shastri’s belief in bolstering the squad’s all-round capabilities stems from his experience as both a player and a coach. His view is underscored by the idea that having multiple all-rounders can provide the team with versatile options, enhancing their ability to adapt to various match situations.
Drawing from historical precedent, Shastri emphasized the need for an ample contingent of 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 elaborated.
The significance of this strategy is further highlighted by Shardul Thakur’s recent performance in the ODI series against the West Indies, where he emerged as the leading wicket-taker with eight scalps in three outings. Thakur’s dual proficiency with the ball and the bat adds depth to his candidacy for the home World Cup.
Shastri’s viewpoint found resonance with another cricketing luminary, former chief of selectors Sandeep Patil. Patil echoed Shastri’s sentiments, saying, “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.”
Reflecting on history, the presence of all-rounders like Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan, and Suresh Raina in India’s 2011 ODI World Cup campaign demonstrated the strategic advantages of having versatile players who could contribute with both bat and ball. This approach becomes particularly relevant considering the run-scoring pitches expected during the home World Cup, where a balanced squad with depth in both batting and bowling could prove pivotal.
As discussions and deliberations shape the composition of India’s squad for the 2023 ODI World Cup, the emphasis on all-rounders reflects the team’s ambition to conquer the global stage with a versatile and adaptable cricketing arsenal.