The legendary Sunil Gavaskar has slammed Team India for opting for an optional practice session ahead of their T20 World Cup opener against Pakistan in Melbourne on Sunday. Sunil Gavaskar was livid with the Indian cricket team’s think tank, including captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid who decided to make their practice session on Friday “optional”, especially when rain was forecast for Saturday and Sunday.

While skipper Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Deepak Hooda, Axar Patel, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, and Arshdeep Singh were seen spending time in the nets, the likes of Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar stayed away and chose to remain indoors.

On the other hand, the Pakistani team marked their full attendance during their training session with Babar Azam and his colleagues getting an intense workout on the field in Melbourne on Friday.

“I don’t know what it tells you but it’s something that I don’t agree with. I don’t agree with it for the simple reason that, at the start of the tournament, when you had your match (warm-up match) washed out, when you have come to Melbourne and had a day off, and then the next day, you opt not to practice?” Sunil Gavaskar said.

“At the end of the day, those who didn’t come out for practice can turn out to be match-winners. But you want a rhythm going as a team. You want to see a sense of purpose,” Sunil Gavaskar noted.

“Giving an option is something I believe only the captain and the coach should be doing. Say, if you scored a hundred in the previous game and you have a small niggle, the captain and the coach can give you the option of not practicing and say ‘if you don’t want to come to practice, it’s fine’. Similarly with a bowler, who has bowled maybe 20-30 overs and feeling a sore shoulder or something, then the captain and the coach can give that bowler the option of not coming for training,” the 73-year-old retired Indian cricketer mentioned.

“Giving the option to the players is a no-no. There never ever should be that option. Only the captain and the coach should be taking that call. How many times it has affected Indian cricket is unbelievable.”

“At the start of the tournament? In the middle of the tournament, you are on a roll, you have done really well, you give everybody a break. You go to a cinema, go wherever to take their mind off cricket. But at the start of the tournament, optional practice?”

“Maybe on the eve of the match, they might all turn up (for practice). But that’s not it. I want to show that solidarity of purpose ‘look we want to win. Tomorrow if it rains, what happens? Your practice is gone,” a fuming Sunil Gavaskar summed up.

Earlier, Sunil Gavaskar made a huge statement about Team India’s chances of winning the T20 World Cup in Australia.

According to the legendary batter, despite the absence of pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, the current Indian cricket team led by Rohit Sharma has created a positive buzz about it around the world and is among the front-runners to win the prestigious tournament Down Under.

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Sunil Gavaskar also highlighted that though Team India has failed to achieve much success in multinational events, they have remained a strong side in white-ball cricket and have won numerous bilateral series against strong sides like South Africa, Australia, and England.

That’s why he reckons that India will be a tough team to beat in the T20 World Cup in Australia and will very much be in contention to end their 15-year trophy drought in the elite competition. India last won the T20 World Cup under the great MS Dhoni’s leadership in 2007 in South Africa.

“One thing for sure. If the Indian team does not win this T20 World Cup it won’t be for lack of preparation. Not only have they gone to Australia almost three weeks before their first game of the tournament, they are also playing practice games against good sides that should get them ready for the tournament. The old saying, ‘if you fail to prepare then prepare to fail’ will not apply to this Indian team as, apart from these games in Australia, they also played six T20 matches at home and won four out of those to show that they are tuning in nicely for the big event,” Sunil Gavaskar wrote in his column for Indian newspaper Mid-Day.

“India’s performance in the white ball bilaterals has always been good, be it at home or overseas, but it’s in the multilateral events that they have been stumbling. In the past it’s been because they have come cold into the event. But that isn’t the case this time around and that’s why, with a terrific blend of youth and experience, there’s optimism among Indian cricket fans that the Cup should be coming home. Yes, the other teams have also been playing practice games and that should hold them in good stead, but there’s a buzz about this Indian team despite the absence of Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja,” Sunil Gavaskar concluded.