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“Performing Well In IPL…”: Ex-India Star’s Big Message To T20 World Cup Hopefuls

Irfan Pathan, the former India left-arm fast-bowler, believes performances from certain players in the ongoing IPL 2024 season shouldn’t guarantee anyone’s automatic selection for the upcoming Men’s T20 World Cup happening in the West Indies and USA from June 1. Pathan was replying to the notion of recency bias being a factor in India’s squad selection for the T20 World Cup. “I was part of the Indian team when Cheeka sir (Krishnamachari Srikkanth) was a selector. I got injured and was dropped from the team after that, despite having played for India. No, no, that’s the truth. But I’ll tell you, I have no qualms at all. I have great respect for him, but I’m saying, at that time, the situation was different. The mindset, perhaps of the captain or the selection committee, was different.

“But let’s talk about the 2010s. Wriddhiman Saha was literally out of the team for a year due to injury. When he recovered, he returned to the squad and made it into the Playing XI after a year. A year is indeed a long period of time. The Indian team considered what he had contributed in the past before his injury. They didn’t want to undervalue that; rather, they wanted to acknowledge it. So, they decided to give him some matches and see how he performs,” said Pathan on ‘Ticket to World Cup’ episode of Star Sports Press Room Show.

Further speaking about how Ajit Agarkar-led selection committee should steer clear of recency bias, Pathan, the Player of the Match in 2007 T20 World Cup final, said, “When you’re in a selection committee, you shouldn’t forget a player’s previous contributions for India, even before the IPL. You should never forget that, and I’m not referring to events from too far back. This should always be taken into consideration.”

“Just because some players are performing well in the IPL, it doesn’t mean they should automatically be selected. In the IPL, there are always one or two uncapped bowlers who can be easily smacked due to small grounds and flat pitches. However, international cricket is a different beast altogether. You’ll have five bowlers, each with a significant number of matches under their belt before entering the World Cup, bringing in tons of experience.

“You’ll be up against top-quality bowlers like Mitchell Starc. While Starc’s performance in the IPL may differ, you’ll still be facing top-quality bowlers. For instance, from Sri Lanka, you might face someone like Pathirana.

“But you’ll also have the other four bowlers, who are top-quality performers. So, don’t overlook their contributions. While considering recent performances is important, remember their achievements for the Indian team before the IPL as well,” he elaborated.

Asked if inexperienced players should be picked for the T20 World Cup, Pathan thinks youngsters can come in, but with the tournament being played in slow conditions of West Indies and USA pitches being an unknown element, the experienced players ought to be picked.

“So the question you’ve been asking about, the youngsters being backed by the selectors, especially after IPL performances. Let’s rewind to 2007. This is a myth that India won that World Cup with a young team. No, boss, we had experience. Harbhajan Singh had six years of experience. Virender Sehwag had six years of experience. Yuvraj Singh had five to six years of experience.

“I had four years of experience. Mahendra Singh Dhoni had four to five years of experience, he debuted in 2004. About 90% of the squad had proper three to six years of experience. And then we went into the World Cup, and we won the World Cup. A lot of people said the otherwise, that we won the World Cup with a young team. Yes, age-wise we were young, but experienced. So when the pressure situation comes, you always bank on experience.

“And that’s why it might be the last time we see Rohit Sharma in the T20 World Cup. It might also be the last time we see Virat Kohli in the World Cup. Then things might change because there is a big shift in T20 cricket, the way the cricket has been played. There was a time in T20 cricket or in one-day cricket, we used to think, okay, let’s do a partnership where one batsman will go hard, the other batsman will rotate the strike. Now it doesn’t happen.

“You have to go bang, bang from both the ends. So things are changing, and as a result, going forward, we might see a lot of youngsters participating in the T20 World Cup. However, this World Cup demands that selectors be particularly vigilant, especially given its location in the West Indies.

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“And when the slowness of the game comes in, this is where the experience comes in. This is what Haydos said, this is what Tom Moody said, this is what I believe as well. Always bank on experience. Never solely rely on young players and believe that it will work just because it did in 2007. It’s a myth, and I’ve just debunked it for you,” he concluded.

India will begin their Men’s T20 World Cup campaign in June 5 against Ireland at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York. India, the 2007 Men’s T20 World Cup winners, are in Group A alongside Pakistan, Canada and tournament co-hosts USA.

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