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This IPL Star Deserved Place In India’s T20 World Cup Squad, Sunil Gavaskar’s Blunt Verdict

A glimpse at India’s T20 World Cup 2024 squad is enough to assert that pace bowling is the team’s biggest weak link. Barring Jasprit Bumrah, India do not have an in-form pacer for the showpiece event while Hardik Pandya performances in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 wouldn’t give fans much confidence either. While there were a number of top players who couldn’t find a place in the team, the legendary Sunil Gavaskar feels T Natarajan was one star who should’ve been picked.

In a chat with India Today, Gavaskar lauded the Natarajan’s performances in the IPL and said that he could’ve been in the team.

“I was thinking more like T Natarajan, the left-arm pacer bowler. He has been bowling extremely well. So, I thought maybe he could have been in the team. But that’s okay. I think the seam bowlers that they have got, they all have experience. So no problem with that,” he said.

While Natarajan’s absence was a shock to many, Hardik Pandya’s retention as vice-captain of the 15-member squad also left a few baffled. The MI captain has scored 197 runs and taken just four wickets in 10 games with his team languishing in ninth spot.

“There’s a big difference playing in the IPL and playing for your country. Playing for your country brings out something different in every player and Hardik Pandya will be a different player,” said Gavaskar on Sports Today.

“He’s had to face a lot of issues in this particular tournament (IPL), he’s handled it quite well. When he goes overseas and has to play for India, I think he will be in a completely different frame of mind.

“And that’s going to be a much more positive frame of mind than maybe what we have seen here in this tournament. So, Hardik Pandya will make a contribution with both bat and ball in this tournament,” added Gavaskar.

Pandya was booed in the initial few IPL matches after he took over the Mumbai Indians captaincy from Rohit Sharma, who has guided the franchise to five titles.

Gavaskar also felt, this Indian side has the capability to bring back the World Cup.

“They are title contenders, without a question. At the international level, sometimes you need a bit of luck and if this Indian team has just that little bit of luck, then I’m very confident that after 2007 (triumph), the T20 World Cup will come back to India.” The former India skipper felt all the players would be perfectly conditioned going into the mega event given that they would have played a lot of cricket in the IPL.

“They’ll go with good rhythm (following the IPL); the bowlers would have bowled a fair bit of overs, the batters will have enough time out in the middle, some of them would have scored 80s, 90s 100s.

“So, clearly, this team will go with that little break… a week break (between the conclusion of IPL and start of the World Cup). With that little break, they will be a little bit refreshed, but at the same time not rusty.” The IPL ends on May 26 while India play their first World Cup match against Ireland in New York on June 5.

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