'Felt he should've replaced Axar...': Yuvraj doesn't agree with Ashwin's WC selection, sends No.4 reminder to India
Yuvraj Singh felt India missed the trick by not picking Washington Sundar as Axar's replacement.
On Thursday, as Indian fans waited for the final squad for the 2023 ODI World Cup, Team India incurred a huge blow as Axar Patel was ruled out of the tournament. The spin-bowling all-rounder had incurred a tear in his quadriceps muscle, which forced him out of the World Cup as India added the experienced Ravichandran Ashwin to the squad. While the change was the most likely scenario given the proceedings in the recently-concluded Australia series, the legendary Yuvraj Singh felt India missed the trick by not picking Washington Sundar as Axar's replacement.
When Axar incurred the injury during the Super Four game in Asia Cup against Bangladesh, Washington Sundar was made to fly to Colombo the next day with India slated to play the final the following day. Reportedly, Ashwin was called up first, but the bowler denied the opportunity as he wasn't match-fit and hence Sundar was picked and later was added to the XI for the final as well, although he did not bat or bowl. Later, when the selectors picked the squad for the Australia series, both were added as replacements for Axar with India wanting to have a look at both options. However, with Ashwin being used for the opening two games, the management's plan became fairly evident.
Axar was slated to return for the final Australia tie with BCCI chief selector Ajit Agarkar confident of his recovery, but he failed to recover and later was removed from the World Cup team as well. Sundar did play the final match of the series, but it was Ashwin who travelled with the Indian side to Guwahati while the former joined the Asian Games squad.
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Speaking at a promotional event in Delhi, organised by Vicks, Yuvraj felt that India missed the trick by not selecting Sundar instead of Ashwin, explaining that it would have added another left-handed option to the line-up. He was also felt that Yuzvendra Chahal missing out from the World Cup team was sheer misfortune.
“With Axar not there we have to wait and see who will bat at No. 7. I was thinking if Washington Sundar would have played in place of Axar then India would have had another left-hander. But unfortunately, he did not get picked and so did Yuzvendra Chahal. But otherwise, I feel the combination is fine,” he said in a chat with Hindustan Times Digital.
KL Rahul or Shreyas Iyer at No. 4?
A few weeks back, India captain Rohit Sharma had admitted to the No. 4 conundrum saying that no batter has settled into that batting position since Yuvraj retired. The problem persisted in the build-up to the 2023 World Cup as well as India tested as many as five primary options for the post - Iyer, Rahul, Ishan Kishan, Rishabh Pant and Suryakumar Yadav, among other makeshift options. With the World Cup at the doorstep, Iyer has emerged as the batter most likely to assume the role, having appeared in 22 innings at No. 4 (most among the 5 options) with 867 runs which includes five fifties and two centuries, one of which came in the Australia series last week.
But Yuvraj seems to have Rahul is his mind as well for the No. 4 spot but rather advised the team management to settle on the batting position between the two batters and not chop and change during the World Cup.
"So whoever between KL and Iyer bats at No. 4, I don't think India should chop and change anymore because both are coming back from an injury and both need gametime, said Yuvraj, who scored 3415 runs at No. 4 for India, which included an unbeaten 113 during the 2011 World Cup match against West Indies in Chennai.
In his parting advise to the Rohit Sharma-led side, when asked what will be India's major challenge in the tournament, Yuvraj urged the team to not be affected by the pressure of expectation that India will face given it is a home World Cup.
He said: “Keeping up with the expectation. They should be playing the situation 'and not the expectation.”
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