Former India all-rounder Yuvraj Singh said it is very stupid to think that Team India need to bat deep and added that India has a settled batting unit whereas bowling has been an area of concern. Yuvraj said that if India wants to win the T20 World Cup then the team management needs to play main bowlers like Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav.
India have been looking to bat deep and post 200 plus totals and get consistent about it, much like the template world champions, England adopted with a considerable amount of success in white-ball cricket.
They are also willing to pay any price in order to achieve that as was amply underlined when wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal were not kept in the mix for two straight T20I series, including the just-concluded home assignment against South Africa which ended in a 1-1 draw. Yuvraj Singh further revealed that he was taken aback after not being selected for the Indian team despite passing the mandatory yo-yo test.
In an exclusive chat with Aaj Tak, Yuvraj spoke on a number of issues ranging from his retirement to India’s World Cup 2019 campaign, unravelling a host of startling revelations about Indian cricket.
On sudden U-turn in his selection despite passing yo-yo test
“Never thought that I would be dropped after being the man of the match in 2 games out of the 8-9 I played after the CT 2017. I got injured and I was told to prepare for the SL series. then suddenly, the yo-yo test came into the picture. It was a u-turn in my selection. Suddenly I had to go back and prepare for the yo-yo test at the age of 36. Even after I cleared the yo-yo test, I was told to play domestic cricket. They actually thought that I wouldn’t be able to clear the test due to my age. And that it would be easy to decline me afterwards…yeah you can say it was an exercise in making excuses.”
“I think it was unfortunate for a guy who has played 15-17 years of international cricket to not being made to sit down and being talked to. No one told me and no one told Virender Sehwag or Zaheer Khan either. Whichever player it is, the person who is in-charge should sit down and talk with the player that we are looking at the youngsters and we’ve taken this step. This way, you do feel bad at the beginning but at least you give them the credit of being true to your face – sth which doesn’t happen in Indian cricket. It has been like that forever almost. I have seen it happen to big names. Took it personally then but not now as there is a time for everything to move on and I made my peace with it,” said Yuvraj.
On his retirement announcement during World Cup 2019
“A lot of things were going on through my mind at that time. Out of choice, I felt that the WC has started and the team has moved on. I wanted to play some cricket outside India. My life wasn’t moving forward. Had been married for 2-3 years and I wanted to focus on my life and I felt a bit burdened at the end of my career. So I thought if I have to play leagues outside India, I’ll have to retire. So I thought it was the perfect time to hang my boots”
Yuvraj Singh wanted to play World Cup 2019
“Yes, I wanted to play the WC 2019. Didn’t feel good when I missed out on the 2015 edition as I was scoring heavily in the Ranji trophy back then. but there were a lot of factors which I can’t put in words. Before the 2019 WC, I was 37 years old and a lot of things didn’t go in my favour. I thought I should be thankful for the amount of cricket I have already played rather than ruing missing out on another WC. I’m glad that I retired at the right time.”
On 2007 and 2011 World Cup win
“I think in 2007 we had a new team and a new captain. So I think we played fearless cricket without any pressure from the seniors. That really helped and it also brought a number of changes. 50% of that batch played the 2011 WC. We had good coaches in LAlchand Rajput and Gary Kirsten. I think we had the best players who were also at their peak. A lot of match-winners and a lot of respect for each other in the team. We had very good communication with Dhoni, Gary and Sachin being around. I think it was destiny to win the WC.”
On Team India’s success from 2003
“You have to identify what is the best talent available and then you have to back that talent. Me and Kaif during the 2003 WC. Everybody was failing badly in NZ but almost the same team played in the WC. Cut to the 2019 WC team: I was dropped, then Manish Pandey came in, then after 1-2 more players KL was also tried, Raina came back and then they went with Rayudu who played for 8-9 months and scored a 90 in NZ. Before the WC, we lost to AUs and Rayudu had a bad tournament and suddenly VS came in. The selectors should have understood the importance of the no. 4 position esp in England. VS and RP didn’t have that experience. DK was an experienced guy but was sitting out and suddenly goes to bat in the semis. So I really didn’t understand the thinking. I think that was the main reason why India didn’t win the WC. I thought India and England were the best teams and there is no reason that India shouldn’t have played the final.”
MS Dhoni batting at No.7 in World Cup semi-final
“I was very surprised that MS came in to bat at No. 7. I felt that he should have batted higher being the most experienced. I don’t know what the team mgmt thought. Anyways it’s done now so”
On inclusion of wrist spinners like Chahal, Kuldeep in the T20I side
“It is very stupid to think that we (Team India) have to bat deep. In the last 3 to 4 years during every IPL auction, most of the money is spent on the bowlers. The thinktank needs to understand that you have to have main bowlers like Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav. Especially if you are playing on flat tracks, you need very good bowlers. You need really good bowlers to win the T20 World Cup. Yes, we have a great batting side. We have Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma. Middle-order you know, Shreyas Iyer has done very well in the ODIs. So batting is not an issue but you need bowlers to win the World Cup. Definitely (on bringing wrist-spinners). My thinking is it is very easy to hit pacers but to reach out to the pitch of a delivery bowled by a spinner may create problems for you.
Team management should go with Pant or Dhoni
“A big-hitting player is always in debates. During my time I had the captain’s support but like me with Rishabh to there is no one to talk to him. See I think they (thinktank) have to decide whether they want to carry on with youth or they want to bring back experienced (players). Whoever you want to play, tell him that we are looking at you for T20 World Cup, you have these tournaments so go and play freely and express yourself. Team management needs to groom guys to win the T20 World Cup. “
On pressure on Virat as captain
“Earlier there were only two formats so it was easy for a captain to manage. If the load on Virat is more than maybe they should try a different captain for the shorter formats. Rohit has done a fairly good job. I don’t really know. They have to decide that how much workload Virat can take. It completely depends on how they want to go for the future. It is completely team management’s call.”
On Rohit Sharma being given the role of Test opener
“If you ask me, Rohit Sharma should have opened in Tests from the beginning of his career. You play him one match and then drop him and say Rohit Sharma is not scoring runs in Test cricket. How can you expect someone to perform without giving him 10 Test? Now if you are making Rohit Sharma open in Tests, you should give him 6 Tests and tell him Rohit, you have got 10-12 innings, go and play your game, nobody will say anything. You gave so many chances to KL Rahul, so whoever is your opener, give him those 6 Test matches so that he can go and express his game.”
On his only chance as a Test opener
“I had got one chance to open and then I got dropped. At that time I felt that it was really tough to get as we had some really very big players. Last 7-8 years, there has been a lot of opportunities to get secured in Test cricket. And you will have to give many opportunities for the players to get fit in. Many players failed in the early part of their career, Virat failed in England, Cheteshwar Pujara failed in England and Australia but they stuck to them and look at there performance in Test cricket now. So you need to secure these players.”