Gautam Gambhir, during a conversation with Star Sports Network, named his India XI for their T20 World Cup 2021 opener against Pakistan, to be played on October 24 in Dubai. Remarkably, Gambhir opted for the mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy over the experienced Ravichandran Ashwin in his line-up.
India, who lifted the inaugural T20 World Cup trophy in South Africa in 2007, will begin their 2021 campaign in a highly anticipated clash against arch-rivals Pakistan on October 24 in Dubai.
Gautam Gambhir, who had starred with the bat in the 2007 final against Pakistan, with a 54-ball 75, picked his India XI for the all-important game. KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and skipper Virat Kohli were slotted at the top three, with Suryakumar Yadav and Rishabh Pant to follow.
Notably, Gambhir overlooked Ravichandran Ashwin, India’s highest wicket-taker in the competition’s history (20 wickets from 15 games), in his team. Ashwin, who was named in India’s T20 World Cup squad last week, played his last T20I in July 2017.
“KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma to open the batting, Virat Kohli to bat at No.3, Suryakumar Yadav at No.4, Rishabh Pant at No.5, Hardik at No.6, Jadeja at No.7, Bhuvi at No.8, Varun Chakravarthy at No.9, Shami at No.10 and Bumrah No.11,” Gambhir picked his team during a conversation with Star Sports Network.
The 39-year-old stated that he would’ve loved to have Shardul Thakur as an all-rounder at No.8, had he been named in the 15-member squad.
“Probably had I had Shardul Thakur, I would have picked him to bat at No.8 and Varun Chakravarthy at No.9 and then I could have probably gone with Shami and Bumrah,” he said.
The two-time IPL winning captain also justified his choice of having just one specialist spinner in Chakravarthy, to go with the all-round skills of Jadeja, as he believed that the pitches will assist more spin only during the tournament’s second half.
“At least during the start of the tournament, I am sure it is not going to be a rank turner,” Gambhir explained. “Probably going deeper into the second half of the tournament you might pick another spinner but not in the initial half of the tournament.”
Gambhir’s India XI for their T20 World Cup opener against Pakistan: KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli ©, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Varun Chakravarthy, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah