'I'm jealous that India have them': Arnold names cricketer who can be difference between winning and losing in Sri Lanka
- Arnold said India have the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Hardik Pandya on their side but he would go ‘out of the box' and name Shaw as the player to watch out for in the upcoming three ODIs and three T20Is.
Former Sri Lanka batsman Russel Arnold believes India opener Prithvi Shaw may outshine everyone and be the difference between winning and losing in the upcoming limited-overs fixtures between India and Sri Lanka. Arnold said India have the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Hardik Pandya in their side but he would go ‘out of the box' and name Shaw as the player to watch out for in the upcoming three ODIs and three T20Is.
“For Sri Lanka, I will go with Avishka Fernando at the top of the order. Let me go outside the box with India. Of course, you will be looking at Dhawan and Pandyas to perform but I’m thinking Prithvi Shaw might get a run. Helpfully he will prove me right by entertaining everyone,” Arnold said when asked to name game-changers from both the sides.
Shaw, who in all likelihood will partner Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order for India in the first ODI at Colombo on Sunday, is looking to press the reset button on his international career.
The talented right-hander, who started his Test career with a hundred on debut against the West Indies, was dropped after failing in the first Test against Australia. His shortcomings against in-coming deliveries were laid bare.
Shaw, however, worked on his batting and came back strong at the Vijay Hazare Trophy. The right-hander smashed a record 827 runs in 8 matches at an average of 165 to lead Mumbai to the title. That those runs came at a strike rate of 138.29 spoke volumes about his destructive nature as an opener.
The subtle changes in technique also came in handy. His bat was coming down a lot straighter, his head was still at the point of contact and his front foot was non-committal. Shaw carried the same form for Delhi Capitals in the IPL before a virus outbreak postponed the tournament till September.
Arnold feels 'jealous' about India’s bench strength
There have been a lot of talk about India sending a side minus Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Japrit Bumrah, Rishabh Pant, and Mohammed Shami to Sri Lanka. The 1996 World Cup-winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga even termed it as an ‘insult’ to his country. Arnold, however, said he was jealous that India have all these young cricketers to back their big stars.
"I just feel jealous that India have those cricketers. Even this team, we’ve seen them play. We’ve seen the quality they bring. There is a lot of experience too in Shikhar Dhawan, the Pandyas, spinners Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. There’s a lot of exciting prospects,” Arnold told Hindustan Times.
The Indian limited-overs side in Sri Lanka has as many as six uncapped cricketers – Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Nitish Rana, K Gowtham, Varun Chakravarthy, and Chetan Sakariya.
“We also know about the youngsters and what they can do. The question for the India team would be, can these youngsters actually perform on their own knowing that there is no cushion of a Rohit or Virat. Can they take that next step? It will be exciting to see. Like I said, I’m jealous that India are actually in this position (of having so many quality players),” Arnold added.
The former middle-order batsman said India can win a lot more games if they can keep their top players fresh by preparing two separate teams of the same quality.
“You have to look at what is happening around the world. The amount of cricket that is being played, the quarantines, the bubbles, players are bound to get mentally tired. It’s hard on them. If India can do this type of things, then their players will be fresh. Their talent pool will always be there and then they can always keep winning and entertaining the fans,” Arnold, who is a part of the commentary panel for Sony Sports Network, said.
Asked about the Indian cricketers who can stake a claim for the Indian T20 World Cup squad later this year, Arnold said the hunger will separate the men from the boys.
“We’ve seen them do some special things. There is Padikkal, Gaikwad. When we look at the batting, there is a lot of talent. Will they look at it as an opportunity and will they push the seniors? It comes down to what you have and what you want to prove. You can sit back and think I’m a part of it, I’ve got my opportunity and that’s fine, this attitude will not take you far. The hunger is what will make the difference. It’s hard to give names right now because we don't know who is going to play from the big squad of 20. But whoever plays, we know can be dangerous,” he added.
(Watch the 1st ODI on 18th July 2021 LIVE on SONY TEN 1 and SONY SIX in English from 3.00 pm IST)