One of the major concerns heading into the ODI World Cup at home, despite an Asia Cup title haul, has been that of the injuries that Team India has faced during their campaign in Sri Lanka. Axar Patel incurred a quadriceps injury, which now puts him doubt for the World Cup with the team management looking at alternatives in Ashwin and Washington Sundar, while Shreyas Iyer injured his back yet again. And although the management remains positive of Iyer’s recovery, batting great Gautam Gambhir feels India should look for a replacement immediately. As the discussion gathers heat with World Cup less than three weeks away, the legendary Kapil Dev gave his verdict on the matter.
Iyer was out for seven months before making his return to the Indian team for Asia Cup. In March earlier this year, Iyer had incurred a lower back stress fracture after which he had missed the IPL, WTC final and th tour of the Caribbean. During the period, he underwent a surgery, recovered from it at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru and later proved his fitness to be part of the Asia Cup and World Cup squad.
However, he featured in only one game, against Pakistan in the group stage of Asia Cup, before being sidelined with a back spasm which saw him miss all the remaining matches in Sri Lanka. Unimpressed at the proceedings, Gambhir, in conversation with Star Sports on Sunday, questioned the logic behind picking a such a player for the World Cup with even his form being unknown and hence opined that he feels Iyer is all but certain to get replaced for the tournament soon.
“It is a concern. You were out for such a lengthy time and then you return for Asia Cup, play one match and then again become unfit. I don’t think after this team management will pick up him for such a big tournament. You will see in the coming days that Iyer won’t be part of the World Cup squad and someone will be replacing him. You should always go into a World Cup with fit players. Performance is a different thing. Imagine if a player suffers from a spasm or some other thing then you cannot find a replacement. So if Iyer hasn’t been fit in this tournament then it is very difficult for him to be part of the World Cup because of his injury and then we don’t even know how is form is presently. Whatever his form was, it was 7-8 months back after which he only played in one game. So it is unfortunate,” he had said.
Kapil Dev, on Monday, on the sidelines of the launch of the third edition of J&K Open to be held at Jammu Tawi Golf Course from October 4 to 7, admitted that he would rather leave it to the selectors in taking the best call in this scenario while saying that it is very easy to question a player and point fingers at him.
“I am nobody to answer that. The selectors are doing their job. It is very easy to raise fingers at one player,” he said. Iyer has been picked for the three-match ODI series against Australia, starting September 22.
“He got through his batting programme fine and at the moment, he is fit. We hope that he gets through all these three games,” said BCCI chief selector Ajit Agarkar on Monday after announcing India’s squad for the series.
– ‘India ready to win ODI World Cup’ –
The 1983 World Cup-winning captain Kapil also backed the Rohit Sharma-led side to lift India’s third World Cup trophy, although he admitted that he doesn’t want to put the favourite tag on the hosts as a lot would depend on luck.
“I think if we can come in top four, that is more important and then it will be about stroke of luck and everything. We can’t say right now that we are favourites, of course our team is very good. Heart says something else, mind says no we have to work very hard. I know our team, I don’t know about other teams, so I would say it is unfair for me to give a blank answer…as far as India team is concerned, it is ready to play and win the championships…they should play passionately, enjoy themselves.”