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Posted at: May 15, 2019, 8:17 AM; last updated: May 15, 2019, 8:17 AM (IST)ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP ENGLAND & WALES 2019: 15 DAYS TO GO

Bagful of arsenal

Shastri says team is ready for challenge, he himself has no fear
Bagful of arsenal
Ravi Shastri picked up West Indies and Australia as the teams to watch out for in the forthcoming World Cup. File

New Delhi, May 14

Ravi Shastri, anonymous during the IPL because his coaching role with the Indian team forbids him to do commentary, has emerged from the shadows and has spoken in his usual confident manner about India’s prospects at the World Cup, which begins in England and Wales on May 30.

Shastri spoke on a range of issues — from India’s No. 4 batting spot to the favourites for the World Cup — during a website interview. He said that he’s happy with the 15-member squad, which he said is flexible and has enough ammunition for the 50-over showcase tournament. When Vijay Shankar was included in the squad, it was perceived that the Tamil Nadu all-rounder would likely bat at the No. 4 spot, but Shastri said the team is flexible, and different combinations could be used at the World Cup. “We are a flexible team. It’s horses for courses, we have got enough ammunition. We have got enough players who can bat at No. 4. So, I am not really worried about that,” Shastri said.

Pace vs Spin

There are three main pacemen in the Indian squad — Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami — and a fourth option in allrounder Hardik Pandya. The 15 has three main spinners in Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav and allrounder Ravindra Jadeja, apart from a part-timer in Kedar Jadhav. Wouldn’t it have been wiser to pick up an extra pacer for the English conditions, instead of an extra spinner? “I think we have got all bases covered, really,” Shastri answered. “Last thing you want is passengers on the tour. You want to have in those 15 players a player who can play anytime, at any given time. He shouldn’t be in the 15 and could be called upon only if there is an injury. If there is a major injury to a fast bowler, there will be a replacement almost straightaway... In fact we are going with 3-4 fast bowlers in the lead-up to the World Cup. For all you know, one might stay back, you know whoever is impressive, the board might just keep him back and see what happens.”

Form, niggles...

Jadhav suffered a shoulder injury during the IPL, while Kuldeep Yadav had been dropped KKR due to ‘poor’ form: He picked up only four wickets in nine matches. Shastri said he’s not worried about these issues. “It doesn’t worry me at all. In fact I am totally blanked out from that,” the coach said. “When the flight takes off on the 22nd, we will see who are the 15 on that. And just take it from there... Injuries are the worst thing. Australia lost one of their fast bowlers. So anything can happen anytime. Depends on the seriousness of the injury. Luckily in Kedar’s case, there is no fracture so we will wait and watch. There is still time so it should be ok.” Shastri said that T20 form can’t be made the basis to select the team for a 50-over event, “because T20 and 50 over cricket are totally different”, but added: “Now in the last week of the IPL, boys who were part of the World Cup squad, say Rohit or a Virat anyone who is part of the squad goes big, gets some big scores, that will only help them going into the World Cup because they come in the frame of mind where they are in good nick.”

Go with flow

The World Cup has reverted to the round-robin league format in which each team plays all other teams, from the pools format used in 2015. Shastri said a team cannot go into such a tournament pondering over the format. “In these big tournaments, I believe you don’t plan. You go with the flow, you react spontaneously to different situations,” he said. “You can’t pre-plan because the game is such you have got to react in the best possible way at that particular time. So, there is no point planning for something that isn’t there. And that’s what these four years in between World Cups prepare teams for.” — TNS


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