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IND vs AUS | Navdeep Saini should be rested and asked to focus on red-ball cricket, opines Gautam Gambhir

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Saini has been the worst bowler across both the sides this series


IND vs AUS | Navdeep Saini should be rested and asked to focus on red-ball cricket, opines Gautam Gambhir

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SportsCafe Desk


Gautam Gambhir wants India to rest the under-fire Navdeep Saini, as he feels one bad game might shatter the youngster’s confidence, and instead ask the right-armer to focus on doing well with the red-ball. Gambhir also wants the Indian side to swap Yuzvendra Chahal with Kuldeep for the 3rd ODI.

Raw pace does not guarantee success on quick and bouncy Australian wickets and Navdeep Saini has learnt the lesson the harsh way. Seen as someone who could ‘rough-up’ batsmen with his intimidating pace, Saini entered the ODIs with a lot of expectations, but the 28-year-old was smashed to smithereens in each of the first two games. After conceding a staggering 83 runs in the first ODI, Saini gave away 70 runs in just 7 overs in the second, proving to be the worst bowler across both the sides.

As a result, the right-armer’s place in the side, rightfully, has come under the scanner and Gautam Gambhir wants to see Saini out of the team - for his own good. Gambhir feels that one more bad game could shatter the youngster’s confidence, and thus wants the Indian management to ask Saini to instead focus on red-ball cricket, ahead of the all-important Tests.

“I won’t rest Bumrah or Shami. I would probably rest or replace someone like a Navdeep Saini. I would actually even rest him for the T20Is and ask him to focus on red-ball cricket. Because with Ishant Sharma not being there, he would be required, so I would probably ask him to play the warm-up games against Australia A and concentrate on red-ball cricket,” Gambhir said on ESPN Cricinfo’s preview show.

“He is a young player, and another bad game can ruin his entire confidence and his entire tour. I would probably replace him with Shardul Thakur and probably rotate Bumrah and Shami in T20 cricket.”

Saini is not the only speedster who has struggled in the series, as Australia’s Mitchell Starc, too, has endured a torrid time. The left-armer has picked just 1 wicket and has conceded 8.16 runs per over, and has looked like a shadow of his own self. But Gambhir, contrastingly, wants Australia to persist with the World Cup winner. The former India opener feels that an undercooked Starc can regain his rhythm only if he gets more games under his belt.

“He (Starc) is probably the only bowler who hasn’t played a lot of white-ball cricket in the last three or four months. Hazlewood was involved with CSK, Cummins played the entire IPL it is only Starc who didn’t play. Yes he played Shield red-ball games, but I would definitely play him in all white-ball games because there is no better practice than match practice,” Gambhir said of Starc.

“You can bowl him as much as you want in the nets but the more he will bowl, the better he will get. He looked better in the second game. The next game is anyway a dead rubber and Australia would want to have someone like a Mitchell Starc back in full rhythm.”

Yuzvendra Chahal’s form has also added to India’s woes, with the leg-spinner averaging 160 with the ball, whilst also conceding runs at a dismal ER of 8.42. The 30-year-old has looked toothless thus far, and hence Gambhir wishes to see the visitors bring in a like-for-like replacement in the form of Kuldeep Yadav

“They should play Kuldeep for Chahal, no doubt about it. You might be playing Kuldeep in T20 cricket, but Chahal hasn’t had the best of two games and there’s nothing wrong in replacing him with Kuldeep because he is in your Test squad as well. You play him now and in the T20s - you might just require him for the Test matches as well.”

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