Credit: X/BCCI

Credit: X/BCCI

Irfan Pathan, Commentator & Cricket Expert with IPL official TV Broadcaster, opined on Star Sports Press Room Show, Ticket to World Cup, choosing Pandya as VC, and the mistakes from the last T20 WC. “Selection processes typically involve meticulous planning. However, there have been concerns regarding the clarity of planning, evident in decisions like excluding Rinku Singh from the squad despite earlier inclusion plans. Following the T20 World Cup, there was a shift in strategy from avoiding senior players to including them for their experience. Clarity in planning is crucial, and teams usually adhere to a clear direction.

"Previously, Hardik Pandya held the captaincy, but Rohit Sharma took over for T20 matches. Post T20 World Cup, there was a new plan; they aimed for a younger team with Pandya and Surya as potential captains. Yet, questions arise regarding Pandya's performance consistency and commitment to Indian cricket. Regular participation in domestic cricket is essential for serving Indian cricket throughout the year. Injuries are inevitable, but proper planning involving consistent match play, including domestic cricket, is vital for a player's return.

"But then there's this one player who returns from injury without fulfilling the same requirements. That shouldn't happen because it sends the wrong message to the rest of the team. When they see one player receiving special treatment, it disrupts the team environment. Cricket isn't like tennis; it's a team sport where equality is vital. Every player should be treated fairly and equally. Regardless of whether you're a newcomer or a seasoned player like Rohit Sharma or Virat Kohli, cricket is a team sport first and foremost. I've witnessed things in the past, particularly during the T20 World Cup last year, that went against the principles of Indian cricket—instances where certain players were given undue advantage, which is unacceptable.

"To succeed in tournaments like the World Cup, it's imperative that every player is treated fairly and equally. So, now, coming back to your question about Hardik Pandya being vice-captain, I understand the rationale behind it due to the importance of continuity in leadership. However, considering the current performance, the selectors opting for continuity may be understandable. Yet, I believe someone like Bumrah wouldn't have been a bad choice either."

Speaking exclusively to Star Sports Press Room, former India cricketer Irfan Pathan expressing his disappointment over Rinku Singh not being included in the 15 member T20 WC squad. “Look, I am very disappointed that Rinku Singh is not included in the team because he played a crucial role, specifically in finishing games for his franchise last year. You see, he demonstrated that ability last year. Moreover, when he represented India, he showcased the same skills. So, when you maintain a strike rate of 170+ and an average close to 60-70, and still don't get selected, it's incredibly disheartening."

He added, "Bishnoi, in my opinion, stands at ICC number 6 in the rankings. Admittedly, he may fall behind a master spin champion like Chahal. However, Bishnoi brings additional value with his fielding prowess. Obviously, when assessing this team, I kept these two factors in mind. However, it's crucial that the selected players deliver when the pressure mounts. My concern lies not in the initial stages, but rather in the knockout matches. I want the Indian team to play fearless cricket during those crucial moments, something I felt was lacking in the last two World Cups, both in the 50-over format and the T20 World Cup in Australia."  

Speaking exclusively to Star Sports Press Room, former India cricketer Mohammad Kaif on whether he is happy with the team. “Yes, 100%. It's a very balanced side. However, it's crucial to understand that this isn't the IPL. In the IPL, you have 14 league matches, if you lose games, you can always come back and win the trophy. But, the World Cup format is different; weaker teams face off in the initial stages. Suddenly, you enter into the semi-finals against formidable opponents like Pakistan or England. To win the trophy, you must triumph in two significant matches. The question is, are we prepared for those decisive moments? Historically, we haven't excelled in such situations. This poses a real challenge for Rohit Sharma and the team.”

Mohammad Kaif, Commentator & Cricket Expert with IPL official TV Broadcaster, opined on Star Sports Press Room Show, Ticket to World Cup about Hardik’s form in World cups, "I consider Hardik Pandya to be the most impactful match winner in ICC events, surpassing even Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav. While Suryakumar Yadav has also participated in ICC events, his record is rather average. Let me explain why I hold this view. Recall the India vs Pakistan matches. In Melbourne, Virat Kohli scored 82 runs, but it was Hardik Pandya who forged a crucial 40-run partnership and took three wickets. In the Asia Cup, during the match against Pakistan, Hardik Pandya showcased his finishing prowess by delivering in the final over against Nawaz, rescuing the team after Dinesh Karthik and Jadeja were dismissed. Despite his current form, his track record in ICC events speaks volumes. It's understandable that his recent captaincy role for Mumbai Indians may have posed some challenges."

Kaif added, "Despite recent challenges, Hardik Pandya has gained captaincy experience with Gujarat Titans, leading them to victory in the inaugural edition and reaching the final in the subsequent one. His all-round abilities bring crucial balance to the team, consistently contributing wickets with his bowling. We're discussing the most significant upcoming event, facing formidable teams like Australia, Pakistan, and England, where players like Hardik Pandya become indispensable. However, it's pertinent to consider his mental state, as you rightly pointed out. Nevertheless, the selectors have shown faith in him by appointing him as vice-captain due to his past leadership roles, including captaining the 2016 T20 team. This decision reflects the selectors' support for a proven match winner.”

(With Inputs From Press Release)