Kris Srikkanth hit out at the Indian team management for shuffling around roles and lineups without giving players their due time to settle in and start performing to their potential. He went on to criticize the decision to open with Suryakumar Yadav and presented alternatives for the same.
The Indian team is undergoing through a wild phase of experimentation ahead of the ICC World T20 in Australia in October. With Rohit Sharma's ascent to captaincy and Rahul Dravid replacing Ravi Shastri as the head coach, a new era was heralded in Indian cricket and the duo's primary aim was determined to be the marquee event given the team's failure in the 2021 edition. Hence, the duo has been trying all permutations and combinations in terms of both player lineups and assigning different roles to players, in order to arrive at the best formula for the competition.
However, their approach has drawn criticism from many experts including the legendary Krishnamachari Srikkanth. The former batting great believes such frequent shuffles will not allow the players to understand their role and perform in it effectively, thus being counterproductive for the team. He was especially harsh about the team's choice of openers in the ongoing T20I series against the West Indies after Suryakumar Yadav was sent in to bat with Rohit Sharma at the top. Of late, India has also tried to use Rishabh Pant in that role but the wicket-keeper batsman was only afforded one chance before being scrapped from the slot.
“Whatever it was, I completely failed to understand it. You ought to have used Rishabh Pant today if you were planning to use him as the opener for a couple of games. Give him five chances at least. In addition, Rohit Sharma, the captain, and Rahul Dravid, the coach, support the players for at least 5–6 games,” he said on Fan Code ahead of the second T20I which India lost by five wickets.
Suryakumar Yadav first came to the limelight as a lower middle-order batsman for the Kolkata Knight Riders and has since operated in the top or middle-order for both Mumbai Indians and the national team. However, as the Men in Blue have grown packed with options there, the 31-year-old has been elevated to kick off the innings and so far produced scores of 24 and 11. Nevertheless, Srikkanth believes the right-hand batsman should continue to play in his usual role of number four while Shreyas Iyer should make way for Ishan Kishan should the team need an opener. Previously, Srikkanth had called for the inclusion of Deepak Hooda in the team at the cost of Iyer after impressive performances on the tour of England.
“Suryakumar Yadav is a brilliant player at No.4. He should be batting at No.4 in the T20 World Cup. So why do you want to make him open? If you want someone to open, drop Shreyas Iyer and pick Ishan Kishan instead. What I am trying to say is simple...don't spoil the cricketer like Suryakumar Yadav. Please don't do that. I will tell you what will, after a couple of failures he will lose his confidence. Cricket is a confidence game,” he said.
It remains to be seen whether the team changes it strategy heading into the third T20I on Tuesday by trying a different combination, given a disastrous batting performance at Warner Park on Monday.