Former India pacer S. Sreesanth has asserted that Virat Kohli will be the team’s trump card in the upcoming T20 World Cup. He reasoned that coming into his own in the Asia Cup would hold the star batter in good stead in Australia.
Kohli came into the recently-concluded Asia Cup with his place in India’s T20 side shrouded with uncertainty. However, the former India captain silenced everyone, stroking 276 runs in five innings at an imperious average of 92 and a strike rate of 147.59. Sreesanth too echoed similar sentiments.
“The way he’s been performing, I think Virat is back and that is great. In Australian conditions, on hard, bouncy wickets, Virat and Rohit will surely do well,” Sreesanth told reporters in the build-up to the second edition of Legends League Cricket.
India skipper Rohit Sharma too overcame scratchy form to accumulate 133 runs at an impressive strike rate of 151.14. Most importantly, he has been a pioneer in walking the talk about India playing an uber-aggressive brand of cricket. KL Rahul, though, is yet to fall back into his groove.
India, though, have been dealt a massive setback with the injury to Ravindra Jadeja. The star all-rounder further hurt his already dodgy right knee and had a premature end to his Asia Cup campaign. He didn’t even make the reserves for the showpiece event.
But Sreesanth isn’t too bothered, backing Axar Patel to stand up in Jadeja’s absence. The 39-year-old fast bowler went on to praise the IPL for grooming like-for-like replacements.
“Yes we will miss him, but there is Axar Patel. One guy goes and another guy walks in, and that’s the speciality of leagues like the IPL. We have so many opportunities for youngsters, even [Ravi] Bishnoi for that matter. And whenever Axar has gotten an opportunity, he has done extremely well for the country. So as a countryman and a colleague, I would love to see anybody who replaces anybody do well for the country and win the World Cup,” he added.
A winner of the inaugural World T20 in South Africa, Sreesanth likened India’s present Catch-22 situation to the 2007 crisis. He reiterated that some pluckiness could help them turnaround the Asia Cup debacle into a World Cup triumph.
“We have a great team, and I am very confident [of our chances] despite this Asia Cup defeat. Something like this happened in 2007 as well. Just before the 2007 T20 World Cup, we lost the 50-over World Cup in the West Indies. So that motivation when you lose something, if we focus really hard, we can win this. There is no other competition. Yes I love all the other countries, but I love India better.“There’s nothing really to speak about selection. The best team always gets selected. Even during our time in 2007, many guys didn’t play and yet we went and won. So it doesn’t matter who is playing and who is not, we only care about India winning,” Sreesanth, who played 27 Tests, 53 ODIs and 10 T20Is, elaborated.
India will now play three T20Is each against Australia and South Africa at home. Their two practice matches are scheduled against Australia (October 17) and New Zealand (October 19) at the Gabba, before the marquee clash against Pakistan on October 23 at the iconic MCG.
“I want to show the world I still have it” – Sreesanth means business in LLC 2022
Sreesanth’s last apperance for India came in the 2011 Oval Test [Credits: LLC]
Sreesanth is roller-coaster personified. From having one of the best seam representations in the world to getting banned for life in the IPL 2013 spot-fixing scandal, from getting the sanction reduced to once again making a comeback for Kerala – he has seen the highest peaks and the lowest trenches.
He had even expressed his desire to play the 2023 World Cup, but an injury he suffered in practice ahead of Kerala’s second game in the latest Ranji Trophy served a harsh reality. Eventually, on March 9 this year, he brought the curtains down on a theatrical career.
However, ahead of LLC 2022, the Kerala fast bowler announced that he has returned to prove to the world that he’s still got it.
“I did give my real best in the last couple of years playing for Kerala, and I could see a lot of good fast bowlers coming out of my home state. And I was very fortunate to play with them and learn as well. Basically I wanted to give my best and try and make it to the 2023 World Cup, which was mostly an unrealistic goal. As a youngster, I always believed in myself and that’s why I could win two World Cups for the country and be a part of it.”So this is a great opportunity, in a league like this, to continue the journey. I think I was one of the first people to even sign the league, so I am grateful to them and looking forward to playing. Most of them might be planning to just have fun, but I want to show the world I still have it,” he said in response to a question from Sportskeeda.
Indian fans were deprived of Sreesanth’s exuberance for seven long years. Hopefully, there will be enough of the wickets cartwheeling back followed by him taking off with his right fist celebrating in an up-and-down motion and ending with expressing gratefulness to the Almighty, in the coming weeks.