“Don't mind if certain players…,” Manjrekar sets high expectations straight from Kohli, Rohit from Super 8 onwards

India will begin their Super 8 campaign against Afghanistan on June 20 in Barbados.

Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma | GettyFormer cricketer-turned-commentator Sanjay Manjrekar on Sunday (June 16) said he won’t mind a few low scores in group matches from Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma if the two batting stalwarts could influence the outcome of the T20 World Cup 2024 semi-final or final.

While skipper Rohit looked in fine touch en route to his half-century (52*) against Ireland, he returned with scores of 13 and 3 against Pakistan and the USA in the next two games.

On the other hand, Kohli has as failed to make a mark in the competition so far, registering scores of 1, 4 and 0 in three innings.

"Ideally, if you have gone for people like Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, then you have gone for experience. You want to take your experienced players in World Cup to deliver when it really matters," Manjrekar told PTI in an exclusive chat.

"So, I don't mind if certain players are out of form. Coming into the knockouts, if they play a defining innings in a semi-final or the final to win the title, that's the kind of expectation you must have from your senior players,” he added.

"If a youngster comes to the fore, that's a bonus like it happened in 1992 with Pakistan, with Inzamam-ul-Haq. It's the seniors who have to make the major contribution and that is why I guess selectors go for experience in T20 World Cup or World Cups generally," he continued.

When enquired about the legendary duo's future in T20Is after this World Cup, Manjrekar chose to remain silent and instead said that the players or the national selectors could provide the answer.

"I think it's a question best asked to chairman of selectors what their plans are and the two individuals can tell what their plans are and how the selection committee is going to be thinking and I think there's fair bit left in the tournament before they start thinking on those lines," he stated.

On a separate note, Manjrekar praised the Indian team management for promoting wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant to No. 3 in the ongoing T20 World Cup.

The southpaw delivered crucial performances with the bat at one down for India in the group stage. Playing on two-paced New York pitch, Pant slammed 36* off 26 balls against Ireland, followed by scores of 42 (31 balls) and 18 (20 balls) versus Pakistan and USA respectively.

"They (team management) want more and more impact players, at every position down the order and Rishabh Pant, I didn't expect him to be batting at No. 3, and what a brilliant move it has turned out to be, starting from that warm-up game against Bangladesh, when Samson and Rohit Sharma took some time to get used to the surface," Manjrekar remarked.

"Pant has showed his class. He has been India's best batter in this tournament so far, and on a difficult pitch, and that is Rishabh Pant's class. That they gave him the No. 3 slot also ensured that India don't have six right-handers like they had in that 50-over World Cup and the only left-hander India had was Jadeja at No. 7."

During the New York-leg of the tournament, Team India went with a four-pronged seam attack. However, this combination is expected to change in the Super 8s considering the success of spinners in the West Indies.

However, Manjrekar said India might choose to use their two finger spinners instead of either of the two wrist spinners if the Caribbean pitches turn out to be a rank turner.

"The thing about pitches in the West Indies is that if India comes across a real turning pitch, then they might just be happy having finger spinners (Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel) because if you see in India, when we have rank turners, you always see that you have Ashwin and Jadeja, so that might suffice.

"Kuldeep Yadav's great strength is that if there isn't much in the pitch, he will extract more from the pitch than any other spinner, plus the kind of artistry that he has, plus all those kind of bowlers' value hasn't been seen because there is so much in the pitches, all you needed are bowlers who can bowl accurately."

India will begin their Super 8 campaign against Afghanistan on Thursday (June 20) in Barbados.


By Salman Anjum - 16 Jun, 2024

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