“There are some big omissions. Chahal in particular, that leg-spinner is such a superb player and (it) must be tough for the selectors because they’ve also got another one in Kuldeep (Yadav)…. he’s a superb player. So, they’ve gone for that as an option,” Hayden told media on the sidelines of the CEAT Cricket Rating Award in Mumbai.
Hayden backed young players Shubman Gill and Tilak Varma to make the opportunity count after they were named in India’s squad for the Asia Cup.
Asia Cup 2023 | Asia Cup 2023 India Squad Announcement Live | Asia Cup India Squad
After making a stunning 890 runs in the IPL 2023, Gill went through a lean patch during the tour to West Indies, hitting just two fifties in 10 matches across three formats.
However, Varma impressed all with fine outings in the T20I series in the Caribbean, culminating in his maiden call-up to the India ODI side.
“(It) is this extreme talent, especially within the batting sense, that brings India to life. Gill hasn’t played a lot of one-day cricket for his country yet. Tilak Varma hasn’t played a game of one-day cricket for his country. But that doesn’t mean they’re not able to deliver.
“And this is what we’ve seen in the IPL. We’ve seen names which otherwise you’d have absolutely zero idea of, come to the IPL, not an international stage but certainly an international event, and set it alight. So, I feel very confident in the fact that Indian cricket is in good hands,” Hayden said.
Hayden pointed out the strong character of India’s middle-order to underline his point.
“When you look at India’s middle-order, you look at Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma… those 3-4 players, and Rohit Sharma described it best. He said ‘you can look at anyone at those numbers but ultimately it’s not one of them that wins you the World Cup,” said Hayden.
Talking further about Varma’s inclusion, Hayden said it could be a move with other big events in mind.
“In the lead up to World Cups, you’re always going to have some players and we’ve seen the class of Tilak Varma. I think it’s a good strategy in terms of not just this World Cup but even potentially getting into the next World Cup (T20 World Cup 2024) as well,” he said.
Hayden said the presence of Varma in the squad will put pressure on Suryakumar Yadav, who has had a hard time auditioning for the No 4 position in ODIs.
“The great thing about Team India is that it has got a really solid 1-2-3 combination, similar to Australia. When you look at their last four or five months, they’ve had a really strong engine room,” he said.
“They’ve got some good problems to solve through the middle-order. If they can fill spots with talented young players like Tilak Varma, it can put pressure on someone like Suryakumar Yadav — I think that’s a good strategy; keep everyone honest in the side and performing, so not a bad move,” Hayden explained.
Asked whether India head coach Rahul Dravid is conservative in his approach, Hayden said coaches do not win tournaments, but players do. He cited ‘Bazball’ as an example.
“Like Rahul (Dravid) is important for your Tilak Varmas, he is, probably, important for your Suryakumar Yadavs as well. We’re gonna have another great name here in Baz (Brendon) McCullum…where it’s not always the innovation that wins you World Cups or tournaments.
“I mean, as much as people were talking about Bazball, it was still in England, a drawn series (Ashes 2023),” Hayden said.
Hayden also brushed aside concerns about ODI forms of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
“Since his hundred against Australia in Ahmedabad, I’ve seen a different Virat Kohli. I haven’t seen a lot of his performances of late coming into the West Indies.
“But big players want big tournaments and both of those two names will be set for a big World Cup. They’ll both play I think according to that. I wouldn’t be too worried about it,” he said.
(With PTI Inputs)