NEW DELHI: The IPL is around the corner and from India’s perspective, skipper Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid will look to plug in the gaps before the T20 World Cup in Australia.
Ex-India coach Ravi Shastri, who will be back in the commentary box during this season’s IPL, is waiting to see the form of allrounder Hardik Pandya.
Due to a lower-back injury, Pandya is yet to play any competitive match post last year’s T20 World Cup in the UAE. He will captain the Gujarat Titans team.
“The whole country will be very closely watching Hardik Pandya in the IPL. We all know what he is capable of,” Shastri said on Tuesday during a press conference. “Rohit (Sharma) and Rahul (Dravid) would love to see how he performs. If he can bring all three aspects of his game to the fore, then it is going to be outstanding. It will be fantastic from India’s point of view.”
With the T20 World Cup scheduled on fast and bouncy pitches in Australia, Shastri said: “One thing I can say is that they would be watching the fast bowling department more than anything else, as they are going to Australia in four months’ times after the IPL.”
Shastri is waiting to see how some of the youngsters, who have recently walked into the Indian team, perform. “I would rather focus on players who have just been given the opportunity and how they do in IPL,” he said.
“Last IPL, we saw Venkatesh Iyer. No one had heard of him before the tournament and by the time it got over he was in Indian team. So you can expect the unexpected.”
Another key area that is going to be a takeaway for Shastri from this year’s IPL is: who can succeed Rohit Sharma as future India captain?
“Virat (Kohli) is not the captain anymore and Rohit has been outstanding so far – especially in the white-ball format. But India will be looking at who can be a captain for the future. There is Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul – all have the ability and they will be leading an IPL team this year. In the future, India will be looking for a solid captain and the IPL is your platform,” said the former India coach.
Suresh Raina, who went unsold at the auction, will make his commentary debut at this year’s IPL. On the players he would like to keep a tab on, Raina said, “I am looking forward to watch Ishan Kishan, (Rishabh) Pant and Shreyas Iyer. And from Chennai Super Kings, I am eager to see how Moeen Ali and (Ravindra) Jadeja perform.”