Panesar thinks some opposition parties may consider Thakur a ‘beat and peace’ cricketer, but all-rounder Shardul has all the weapons in his hands so that the game can turn his head.
India made a change to their ICC T20 World Cup 2021 squad when Shardul and Akshar Patel were left out of the final list.
TimesofIndia.com Played 50 Tests, 2 ODIs and one T20I in his career between 200 Pan and 2013-2013 with Panesar, India’s title chances, face-to-face India vs Pakistan clash, Virat his first senior ICC title, MS Dhoni mentor and more A lot.
How would you rate India’s chances in the T20 World Cup this time?
India is going to be a strong favorite. They will enter the tournament as title favorites. I think they will definitely make it to the finals. The goal of winning the ICC title as captain is huge. And he will not give up this opportunity easily. This will be his last tournament as T20 captain and he is hungry for the ICC title.
(India will wear a new jersey during the T20 World Cup United Arab Emirates – Photo courtesy of BCCI Twitter)
MS Dhoni has been appointed as the mentor of the Indian team for the T20 World Cup. How big an impact will it have?
It is a huge decision to bring Dhoni on the board as a mentor. He must have said … Look, this is my last World Cup as a T20 captain, the last time I lead a team, I played under Dhoni and learned from him. She wanted a beautiful memory. He wants to finish at a height, which is why he brought Dhoni as a mentor. He wanted Dhoni by his side while chasing the first ICC trophy. And also, Dhoni is not charging anything, which is very good to see. He is the legend of the game. Virat wants his presence and I am sure these two boys Dhoni and Virat together will do a wonderful job for Team India in the World Cup.
A senior ICC trophy is missing from Virat’s cabinet. Can the man who touched the midas – MS Dhoni – help Virat break those jeans?
Yes, too. Dhoni knows how to win the tournament. He will be a huge guide from the dressing room. Virat and Dhoni have won many matches for India together and they know each other very well. In fact, there is huge respect for Virat Dhoni. Dhoni knows how to win big matches and Virat wants to choose those tactics and Dhoni’s brain. He wants Dhoni to lead the way in the World Cup and big tournaments. The two of them will plan together and win the game.
(BCCI team hires Dhoni as India mentor – Photo courtesy of BCCI Twitter)
What is your opinion about the final squad of Team India?
I thought Hershel Patel, the highest wicket taker in the IPL, could do it but he did not. Because India has somehow covered their bowling department. India has moved forward with experience in the team. Ashwin, Jadeja, Rohit are players who can turn the tables for India and have vast experience. Chahal and Shikhar couldn’t do it – it was amazing. But India has covered all their foundations properly and they look very good. Virat and Dhoni took experience by their side.
India will start their T20 World Cup campaign against Pakistan this time. India have a 5-0 record against Pakistan in this tournament, will they be able to make it 6-0?
Pakistan is really good on the way to UAE. They have a good bowling lineup with Shaheen Afridi. They have a tough batting lineup with Babar Azam. They have all the basics covered. You can’t just predict Pakistan. Only Pakistan can defeat Pakistan. In their day, they could beat any team in the world. Pakistan is really inspired this time and will not give concessions to any team. But considering their overall record against Pakistan, India will have a single hand. Pakistan will be under pressure, not India.
Key players who can turn the table for both India and Pakistan …
For me it will be Ashwin. He’s got a lot of unpredictability. And Rabindra Jadeja. He is a game changer with both bat and ball. He had an excellent tournament with Chennai Super Kings. They are both going to be the main promoters, as Ashwin can be awesome in powerplay and even in death overs. She did so well. If Jadeja and Ashwin perform well, India will win the T20 World Cup. Babar Azam and Shaheen Afridi for Pakistan. Shaheen is a great left-arm seamer and he will look more at the Indian wicket. I’m sure Virat and KL Rahul have enough practice against left-arm seamers. If the Indian bowlers get rid of Babar Azam soon, they can destroy Pakistan like a pack of cards.
England have won the World Cup in the last 50 overs. Do you think they can add another silver thing to their cabinet?
England will not have Ben Stokes in the World Cup. It is a great loss for them. Maine Ali’s choice needs to be made that way in the IPL. He will have to take that form in the T20 World Cup. He has to do well. If he doesn’t do well, England will have a bad time in the tournament. Moin will be the main person for England. I will also choose Adil Rashid. Rashid is the wicket taker in important situations. He also has to click for England. Spin is going to play a big role in the UAE and these two boys will be the main players of captain Eoin Morgan.
In your opinion, who could be the biggest Trump card in this tournament and why?
Shardul Tagore will be Virat’s trump card. He is a man who brings surprises with both bat and ball. Will be looking at Shardul in the huge tournament. And I will win the World Cup for the 100% confident Trump card Shardul Virat. That’s why they included him in the team because he is a match-winner. Opposition groups called him a “beat and peace” cricketer. He is another Manoj Prabhakar from India. But I will compare Shardul with Ben Stokes. He is a match-winner and is going to surprise many players in the tournament.
There are no quarter finals. Only 4 teams went to the knockout stage after the Super 12. How difficult is this format going to be for the team?
It’s going to be very difficult. There are many surprises that can come to the fore. But India is looking stronger than England, Australia and New Zealand. All four teams can advance to the semifinals.
(File photo of Hardik Pandya and MS Dhoni – TOI photo)
Will Hardik Pandya affect India’s chances without bowling?
If Hardik Pandya is in the Indian team, he will have to bat and bowl. He can’t just go in the middle and just bat. If he doesn’t bowl, then Virat should include Shardul Tagore in the team (game XI). India is looking for a real all-rounder and that is why India was looking at Hardik Pandya. Hardick needs to find ways to keep himself fit and keep things in the right direction. If he needs to be on the team, he has to bat and bowl and he has to fit properly.
Rohit Sharma is most likely to take over the captaincy of the T20 team from Virat Kohli. Should anyone else consider what you think?
T20 Shaw Pant needs to be India’s T20 captain. He has done really well for the IPL and the Delhi Capitals. The maturity he has shown, the way he has handled the pressure-cooker situation is amazing. He is very calm and he is simply brilliant. He learned this art from MS Dhoni. Dhoni has played a big role in making Shav Pant the perfect wicketkeeper and captain. Rohit is 34 and I am sure he is ready for the captaincy. But if India is looking to the future, then Shav Pant is the best man. For Shav Pant will be the future captain of India.
Whenever MS Dhoni retires from the IPL, who do you think will be the next CSK captain?
When Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Dhoni) leaves, I will replace Ali as the best captain. He will be a good captain. The way he performed in the IPL is amazing. He has done really well in both batting and bowling. Main Ali will be a great captain for the Chennai Super Kings.