Chance for youngsters to shine: Laxman
With the experienced duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja being rested, former Indian batting great VVS Laxman is of the opinion that the upcoming series against Australia is a great opportunity for youngsters to prove their mettle.
Starting from 17th of this month, India are set to play five ODIs and three T20s against Steve Smith's side. Keeping up with BCCI's rotation policy, the experienced spinners were given a rest to allow the youngsters, who performed remarkably well in the 9-0 demolition (5 ODIs, 3 Tests and 1 T20) of Sri Lanka, to test their abilities against a stronger side in Australia. "I believe that Ashwin and Jadeja have been communicated to by the selectors that they want to give opportunity to youngsters, who did well against Sri Lankan batting line-up. They want to give them a chance against a formidable batting line-up of Australia," Laxman he told reporters on Tuesday during a panel discussion ahead of Australia's tour of India.
"So it doesn't mean that Ashwin is dropped or Jadeja is dropped - it's an opportunity for the youngsters."
On the reserve strength, he added: "The bench strength is so strong. The stronger the bench side, the better the opportunity if you have to be a champion side."
Spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Axar Patel impressed during the Lankan tour.
Chahal bagged eight wickets in the four ODIs and one T20 he played, while Patel took six wickets from his four ODI matches.
Laxman felt the case was same with senior Indian batsman Yuvraj Singh.
"They want to try with youngsters like Manish Pandey, KL Rahul and Kedar Jadhav to see what they can do against a good bowling opposition," explained the stylish right-handed batsman.
The 42-year-old former star reckoned the great form of openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma is the reason why Ajinkya Rahane, who played all three Tests, but only the one ODI in the Sri Lankan tour, is struggling to find a spot in the team. Hence, he doesn't believe Rahane's future in limited overs is in doubt.
"Ajinkya is one of the leaders within the team. Rahane, more often than not in the ODI or T20 format, is an opener but right now Dhawan-Rohit are doing really well and have a solid right-left combination. But players like Rahane will add value to the team and that's why he is in the squad," he explained.
The owner of 17 Test hundreds, Laxman, had special praise reserved in his locker for all-rounder Hardik Pandya.
"One player who impressed me the most was Hardik Pandya. There was a lot of burden on Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina to finish the games, but the way he (Pandya) finishes the innings is very crucial. It's a very important role — a tough role.
“Hardik is a player who is very exciting and with each and every match he is improving. If at all he can be more consistent with bowling, in which he is showing positive signs, he will be my MVP (most valuable player)," he added.
Despite being the heavy favourites, he issued a warning to the Indian side, reminding them about Australia's batting strength.
"Their batting department is very strong. They got match-winners right from the top with David Warner. They have Maxwell and Faulkner, who is a good finisher. Whereas, their bowling department is weak because they are inexperienced, it doesn't mean they don't have experience," he concluded.
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