Former India player Sanjay Manjrekar feels Team India will go with KL Rahul as an opener in the T20 World Cup 2022 despite a few concerns about his form as well. Rahul scored 132 runs at a below-par average of 26.40 in the five innings he played in the recently concluded Asia Cup 2022. However, he is expected to open the batting with Rohit Sharma in the global T20 tournament to be played in Australia later this year as well.
During an interaction on the Sports 18 show ‘Sports Over the Top’, Manjrekar said: “Yes, India will have to back him because of the kind of potential that he has. His international T20 record is fantastic. So, they will start off with KL Rahul but with concerns. There are a couple of people they will be concerned about, their form, there is Rishabh Pant as well, bowling wise as well. Coming close to the T20 World Cup few players have just gone off the boil. So I think they will keep a watch on those players for at least the first couple of matches.”
However, KL Rahul was out of sorts in the ODI series against Zimbabwe. He made a poor start to the Asia Cup but later on slowly started to regain his touch. Manjrekar also shared his views on Rishabh Pant’s inclusion in India’s squad as well.
“He had to be in the squad. I know in white-ball cricket he has not really made the kind of impact that we have seen in Test matches but you can’t leave (Rishabh) Pant out of a T20 World Cup squad. Let’s hope he gets his mojo back quickly because this is a guy, when it’s his night, he can win you a semi-final of a T20 World Cup on his own. He loves the big stage, he has this knack of playing great innings, so that’s the reason Rishabh Pant is there,” Sanjay Manjrekar shared.
He has also expressed surprise at Ravichandran Ashwin’s selection in India’s squad for the T20 World Cup. Apart from him, there are two other spinners – Axar Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal being the other two.
He continued: “I was surprised actually with his selection. I don’t think fielding is crucial in T20 cricket. I know a couple of brilliant catches can change the tide of the game but if somebody has got brilliant skills in batting and bowling, then maybe fielding can be ignored. I will just say that I didn’t expect Ashwin to be part of the squad but it’s happened. Harshal was always going to be in the squad. He was always there in my squad of 15. But after the experience of the Asia Cup, Mohammad Shami should have come back into the plans and they could have maybe taken a tough call with another seam bowler.”
“Yes, because you can see that he has got something special. He bowled that famous over where he nailed the yorkers. These are the little things that strengthen the case of somebody like an Arshdeep Singh. He has the range of bowling, where he can get the new ball to swing both ways, and if he has to pull back his length, then he can get movement off the pitch. He is quick enough, he has got the bouncer and most importantly one of the very few bowlers in Indian cricket now who can nail the yorkers one after the other,” Sanjay Manjrekar concluded.