I don’t know why I have this feeling that India could not pick its Final eleven: Shoaib Akhtar

Mumbai, (UNI) Speaking exclusively during a virtual press conference ahead of the Greatest Rivalry on Star Sports on Thursday, former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar expressed surprise at the omission of Yuzvendra Chahal and the absence of a left-handed seamer like Arshdeep Singh in India’s World Cup squad, according to a media release.

“How they have not selected Chahal is beyond me. And again, I think Arshdeep needed to be in the squad because under pressure, when you are playing against someone like Pakistan, then you need that left-handed seamer. But the problem with the Indian team is that when they get out for 150 or 200, it’s not the batsmen but the bowlers who will have to perform. How long will you stretch your batting line-up? If the first five batsmen couldn’t do anything, then what will the No. 7 or No. 8 do?

So, I literally believe that you’re playing with one bowler less,” Shoaib said.

“And Pakistan are playing with one bowling all-rounder less. We could have gotten India out in under 200 runs. We were missing somebody like (Abdul) Razzaq in the middle, who could have provided the breakthrough and given us some runs also,” he said.

“Coming back to India, I don’t know why I have this feeling that India could not pick its final eleven for the past two years? I don’t feel the team is settled because now you all have injuries, three or four people have been replaced and your squad seems unsettled. It’s a strange thing for me that the squad doesn’t seem settled. We still don’t know who are the four main batsmen and who will bat at No.5, will Virat bat at No. 3 or 4?” Shoaib asked.

“Ishan Kishan, again, he looks amazing. You know the reason he looks amazing? Because you play him on top or you play him in the middle, his mentality is, ‘I am here for the team and I will score runs for you’. Hardik Pandya again, he turns out to be an asset for India. If we look at his all-round performance, then you feel as a captain, along with Ashish Nehra, he has taken his IPL side to such heights. He took his team to a final and won it and then reached the finals again next year. I think the combination of these two – Ashish Nehra and Pandya as a captain – can take India to new heights,” he said.

“But India has not been a settled squad for the past two years. It’s just a very strange thing for me because you don’t know who has to settle where. But having said that, you know, I’m all for Rohit. I’m all for Virat Kohli. I’m all for all those players, but every day you have to perform because you’ve got a name. You have to be out there, you have to take command, to do things so that we don’t leave it to the youngsters. These are big names, Rohit and Virat Kohli are huge names, so they will have to perform. So, the bowling squad looks unsettled, the batting squad looks unsettled,” Shoaib said.

“Going into the World Cup, playing against Pakistan in India, Pakistan will be the underdog. Nobody is going to talk about the World Cup when these two face each other, it’s just going to be India versus Pakistan. And I believe this is going to be one of the best World Cups for the past 50-60 years. This is going to be the most amazing World Cup ever, with India hosting it. I want India to make full use out of this World Cup. But Pakistan will be the underdog and what Pakistan will do is play with their three pacers along with the medium pacer and the two spinners. Pakistan will be a strong contender along with India and England,” he added.

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