After being appointed as the Mumbai Indians Global Head of performance earlier this week, Srilankan cricket great Mahela Jayawardene is back in the news for backing under firing Indian cricket team for the upcoming mega event in Australia.
Though Indian team performance was under par in the recently concluded Asia Cup, Jayawardena still believes they can be a force in the upcoming T20 World Cup and expect them to do better.
Ravindra Jadeja is not the part of the Indian squad for World cup owing to his Knee injury during the Asia cup. His absence means India will miss services of a economical bowler, a left handed finisher as well a gun fielder and Jayawardena said his absence will be “a big loss” to Indian team.
Jayawardena told Sanjana Ganesan on the ICC review,” It is a challenge. They had fitted him nicely in that No.5 role. He has been batting really well and him and Hardik (Pandya) being in that top six – two guys who can give that all-round options – gave India much more flexibility in that batting order,”
“It is a tough one for them, and probably a concern not having that left-hander. They’ve switched to leaving out DK (Dinesh Karthik) and bringing in Rishabh (Pant) in that role, batting at 5 or 4. Those are things they have to settle going into the World Cup. But not having Jadeja, the form that he was in… it will be a massive loss for them.”
He further said Virat Kohli coming back in the form is a big plus for India going to the world cup and the star batsman will have a major say in Indian team performance. Kohli scored a century after 1,020 days, when he smashed an unbeaten 122 against Afghanistan. He finished as the second highest run-getter in the tournament with 276 runs at an impressive 92, striking at 147.59
“He was there and thereabouts pretty much,” said Jayawardena. “He just didn’t have that big score under his belt to get that confidence, especially in white-ball cricket, which is always going to happen. There were a few injury concerns in the last 12 months. He had little niggles and they rested him and India kept on giving people rest, with the workload that they had. So not having that consistent run also makes it tough.”
“In the Asia Cup he batted well, showed what he is capable of, especially in that batting position. Going forward for India, having that stability in that line-up and having confidence that a guy like Virat is going to be a factor, is going to be a concern for the opposition as well. It’s good to see him batting like that. We need all these brilliant players to be at their best form in a World Cup, and that’s what the World Cup deserves as well. Everyone going at each other at that level. It will be a fascinating World Cup in Australia.”
Indian bowling was abysmal in the Asia cup in absence of their spearhead Jasprit Bumrah. He is back from his injury and will try to have maximum game time in bilateral series against Australia and South Africa. Jayawardena mentioned that India would be bolstered by the return to fitness of their pace ace.
“For me the way they played, the skills, the talent, everything is there. They just need a little bit of confidence with the bat, with the ball and in the field,” said Jayawardena.
“These are little things that India will want to improve. It’s just the confidence of bowlers being able to get wickets and then executing skills. Obviously, not having Jasprit was also a factor. He fills a big gap for them with the new ball and at the back end. That will settle them as well when he is back in Australia.”
“World Cups are about momentum, World Cups are about playing your best cricket at the right time. So as long as they lift their game up to that level, I think India has the quality of players who can do that.”
India will begin their T20 world cup campaign against their arch rival Pakistan on 23rd October.