Former all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, the hero of India's 2011 World Cup triumph, has made a shock confession about India's squad for the forthcoming World Cup. In a last-minute change in India's 15-men squad for the quadrennial competition, veteran off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was named in the Rohit Sharma-led side at the expense of the injured Axar Patel.
However, the move did not make Yuvraj Singh happy as he wanted either Yuzvendra Chahal or Washington Sundar to replace Axar Patel and not Ravichandran Ashwin.
“I personally feel the only miss in this side is Yuzvendra Chahal. I think the only aspect that is missing from this team is a leg-spinner,” Yuvraj Singh said at a public event in Delhi.
“I was very keen to see Washington Sundar in the side if we are not picking up Yuzi. But maybe the team wanted an experienced bowler, so that is why I think they went with R Ashwin,” he added.
Before Yuvraj Singh, an Indian cricket pundit alleged a wild conspiracy theory behind Ravichandran Ashwin's inclusion in India's ODI World Cup squad.
According to the bombshell claim made by cricket columnist Ayaz Memon, Indian captain Rohit Sharma was aware of Axar Patel's situation for multiple weeks.
He even knew that the Gujarat cricketer would not be fit for the World Cup, yet the Indian team management continued to peddle lies about Axar Patel's fitness.
Additionally, the Team India think tank comprising Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid realized that three left-arm spinners were just too many, and they needed someone of Ravichandran Ashwin's experience in the line-up.
“Injured Axar Patel out of WC, replaced by Ashwin. This was approved some weeks back but team management shrewdly threw everyone off the scent. 3 left arm spinners in squad was one too many. Also, no one's performed better on Indian pitches than Ash. Team looks complete now,” Ayaz Memon said in a social media post.
Importantly, Axar Patel has an average of 30 and a strike rate of 106.01 with the bat since the beginning of 2022. Plus, he has been highly effective with the ball, taking 14 wickets during the same period. Yet, he missed the World Cup ticket because of an injury he suffered only a fortnight ago.
Axar Patel suffered a quadriceps injury during India's match against Bangladesh in the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka last month.
The left-arm orthodox bowler was sent to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru to expedite his recovery but failed to get fit for the tournament.
Notably, Ravichandran Ashwin, who last played an ODI in January 2022 before being drafted into the Indian team for the recently concluded three-match series against Australia, impressed almost everyone, including the fans, selectors and former players with his performance against Pat Cummins and his boys.
In the two games he played against the Kangaroos, Ravichandran Ashwin grabbed four wickets. His figures of 3/41 in Indore, where he posed serious problems for Australian batters, appear to have convinced skipper Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid to recall him for the World Cup.
Besides, the World Cup is being played in India, handing Ravichandran Ashwin a massive advantage in home conditions. With his wide range of variations and ability to impart turn on his stock balls, he could be lethal on slow and dry Indian pitches.
Ravichandran Ashwin will be a part of a trio of spinners that features Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav in the Indian bowling line-up.
For the unversed, Ravichandran Ashwin is only the second cricketer who was also a part of India's previous World Cup triumph in 2011, the other being talismanic batter Virat Kohli.
Yuvraj Singh also shared his views about Jasprit Bumrah's comeback from injury.
“Jasprit is a match-winner, like Zak (Zaheer Khan) did for us back in 2011. What makes Jasprit a threat is he has skill and pace. He is an asset to the team,” Yuvraj Singh opined.
“To make a comeback from the back injury at this stage is quite big too. As a team you feel confident to have bowlers like that, they win you matches from any situation. Bumrah has matured in the last couple of years, he has captained India and has become a smart bowler. Rohit knows how to use him wisely, especially because he has captained Bumrah in the Mumbai Indians,” Yuvraj Singh explained.
“The advantage with Bumrah is that initially he can get wickets with pace but when he starts going for runs, his skillset will come into play. There will be days when you will win a game after scoring 300 or 350-plus but these kinds of bowlers like Bumrah are needed to defend scores like 250s and 260s,” Yuvraj Singh concluded.