A decade has passed since India last won an ICC trophy. Team India hasn’t been able to cross the finish line since winning the 2013 Champions Trophy under MS Dhoni. They have come close in the 2014 T20 World Cup, the 2017 Champions Trophy, and the 2019 World T20 final. However, they were disappointed with their performance in the last two T20 World Cups. Although they won four of their five group games and advanced to the semi-final as group winners in the 2018 T20 World Cup in Australia, their humbling 10-wicket loss to England projected a bleak image as they failed to advance to the knockout stages.
Former India opener Gautam Gambhir thinks that top players like captain Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, and others frequently taking vacations is one of the main causes of India’s subpar performances in the last two World Cups. Does India have the team to overcome its trophy drought with the ODI World Cup, the following ICC competition, taking place at home at the end of this year? Before the ODI World Cup, India, according to Gambhir, must establish a core and ensure that they play every game. The former left-handed batter referred to workload management as “the worst blunder in Indian cricket” in recent years and stated taking breaks from ODIs is not an option this year.
“They got to play together. I think the biggest mistake that Indian cricket has made in the last two World Cups has been that these guys have not played enough cricket together. Tell me how many times have we got the best playing 11 on the park? We haven’t, only during the World Cup we decided to have the best playing 11, but unfortunately, that was never the best playing 11. So these guys have to play enough of white ball cricket, especially for the 50 overs World Cup together irrespective of whether they want to take a break from the T20 or from the IPL,” Gambhir said on Star Sports show ‘Road to World Cup Glory.
The 2007 and 2011 World Cup champions said fast bowlers and seniors can skip a few T20Is or even the IPL if they need a break. “If they want to take a break, people who play more than three formats, can definitely take a break from T20 cricket, but surely not from the ODI format. If the franchisee has to suffer they have to suffer. Indian cricket is the main stakeholder, not the IPL. IPL is just a by-product. So, if India goes out and wins the World Cup, that is the bigger ovation, that is the bigger ring. For example, if an important player does miss the IPL games so be it because IPL happens every year and the World Cup happens only once in four years. So, for me I think winning the World Cup is far more important than winning the IPL,” he added.
Gambhir also spoke on how India’s ODI World Cup squad has to be selected in terms of approach and template in the 50-over format of the game. “First, you need to identify the players who have that fearless approach, and probably in a format like 50 overs you need to have a mixture of every kind of player. There are players who can anchor their innings. Change in the role has also made a huge difference. During that time we had only one new ball, now we’ve got two new balls with five fielders inside. So, the role of a part-timer has gone out of the window. The reverse swings, you don’t see enough reverse swings anymore, and you don’t see enough of the chase for the finger spinners as well.”
Gambhir said Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli will have a major role to play India’s ODI World Cup campaign. Moreover, this could the great cricketers’ last major 50-overs tournament. “I always feel that when we talk about this new approach, which India always talks about, the template and stuff, you’ve got to identify players who can adapt those roles or that template very easily. Some people just cannot adapt to that template so why push them to play in a certain way which doesn’t come naturally to them? So, for me, I think identifying players and at the same time getting the right mix is very important, rather than thinking that we have to play at a certain template so we got to select all the 15 with a similar mindset or with a similar template. I feel people like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and all those guys who can anchor their innings, who probably can play spin really well will play a massive role in the coming World Cup.”