No harm in having new T20 captain, and if his name is Hardik Pandya, so be it: Shastri

In the absence of regular skipper Rohit Sharma, Hardik will lead India in the three-match T20Is series in New Zealand.

Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya


Former India head coach Ravi Shastri on Thursday said there is "no harm" in appointing a separate T20 captain and identified premier all-rounder Hardik Pandya as the ideal candidate.

In the absence of regular skipper Rohit Sharma, Hardik will lead India in the three-match T20Is series in New Zealand, starting Friday.

"For T20 cricket, there is no harm in having a new captain," Shastri told reporters ahead of the first T20I here.

"Because the volume of cricket is such, that for one player to play all three formats of the game is never going to be easy.

"If Rohit is already leading in Tests and ODIs, there is no harm in identifying a new T20I captain, and if his name is Hardik Pandya, so be it."

Stand-in head coach VVS Laxman on Thursday said India will be looking to identify T20 specialists as it seeks course correction after yet another World Cup failure, and Shastri agreed with the NCA head.

"That's the way forward, VVS is right. They'll identify specialists, especially among the youngsters.

"That should be the mantra, two years from now identify and make that team into a terrific fielding side and identify roles for these youngsters who could be fearless and play that kind of cricket without any baggage."

For the T20Is against New Zealand the likes of Shubman Gill, Umran Malik, Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson have been given a chance as senior players have been rested.

The 60-year-old feels that the Indian team management should groom the youngsters and emulate England's white-ball template that has resulted in them being holders of the ODI as well as the T20 World Cup.

"There's an opportunity with this team in the future to identify roles for players, identify match-winners, and go pretty much on the template of England.

"They are one team that really caught the bull by the horns after the 2015 World Cup. They sat down and said they are going to identify the best players for that format of the game - whether it's T20 or 50-over cricket.

"Which meant that if they are some senior players, and have to sit out, so be it. And they got in youngsters who were fearless, and could adapt to that pattern of the game.

"It's a template that can be followed easily, India has got a wealth of resources and it can start from this tour. It's a fresh young side, you can identify, groom this team."

Since the emergence of the IPL in 2008, many countries have started their own T20 leagues including Australia's Big Bash League (BBL), Pakistan Premier League (PSL), Caribbean Premier League (CPL) etc.

However, while the overseas players are welcomed in the IPL, the BCCI doesn't allow any active Indian cricketer to participate in these foreign leagues.

After the semifinal loss to England, where skipper Jos Butller and opener Alex Hales utilised their extensive experience of playing in the BBL to hand India a 10-wicket drubbing, there were calls for the BCCI to allow its players to participate in different T20 leagues around the globe.

However, Shastri and former India pacer Zaheer Khan don't agree.

"I feel there are a lot of processes in place. It's not about playing only franchise cricket, it's about going to different countries to learn things.

"That is very important and BCCI with its shadow tours, that process is well in place. I don't see any other reason for players to go and play in a particular tournament," Zaheer said.

"You already have robust structure, why depend on others. We have more than enough means to produce good players and you look at our bench strength. You can virtually play three line ups and they can compete at any level.

Shastri added that "there is enough domestic cricket for all these players to get absorbed in the system and get an opportunity.

"Plus you get India A tours and all other tours where at one given time two Indian teams will be playing in the future and the opportunity will come for the other lot to go somewhere else whilst India is in some other country to go play.

"There is no need, they are absolutely fine playing IPL and focusing on domestic cricket, we need them to play domestic cricket in India as well."

Both Zaheer and Shastri feel that the tour of New Zealand is a great opportunity for pace sensation Umran Malik.

"Umran has been an exciting talent and this kind of exposure will help him. It's about how he takes things forward and how quickly he understands that this stage is going to be crucial if he wants to grab that spot in the playing XI and cement his place," Zaheer said.

"He's one of the fastest bowlers in India and you saw what happened in the World Cup, genuine pace rattled opposition whether it was Haris Rauf or Naseem Shah, Anrich Nortje," Shastri added.

"There is no substitute to genuine pace even while defending small scores. It's an opportunity for him and hopefully he will learn from this experience."

Besides Rohit, star batter Virat Kohli and opener KL Rahul have also been rested for the tour. The entire coaching staff, including head coach Rahul Dravid, has also been given a break after the T20 World Cup.

However, Shastri is not in favour of coaches taking breaks.

"I dont believe in breaks. Because I want to understand my teams and player and then be in control of the team.

"What do you need that many breaks for? You get 2-3 months of break during the IPL that's enough to rest. I feel coach should be hands on."

India's tour of New Zealand will be aired on Prime Video.

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