The transition period in an international team is always ‘difficult to manage’ but India have plenty of talent and a potentially good leader in Hardik Pandya to navigate the period in T20 cricket smoothly, says former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara.
India will play six white ball games against Sri Lanka in the new year, with Pandya replacing Rohit Sharma as captain for T20Is from January 3. The squad also lacks KL Rahul and Virat Kohli, which is an indicator that Indian cricket is set to undergo a transition in this series.
“The transition is inevitable. You always have to be prepared for it. But you need supporting players to get through the system to make it work smoothly,” Sangakkara told PTI during an interaction tour of India organized by Star Sports, the official broadcaster of the upcoming Sri Lanka.
“Every side goes through difficult transitions, and we saw that in Australia. We saw that in New Zealand a while ago, even in England. So all of these pages are going through transitions, and difficulties are a common theme,” he quoted the common phenomenon as saying.
Giving the fresh faces a long rope is important to the Lankan legend.
“You have to trust the players you pick, trust them over long periods of time, give them the presence and grounding they need to settle into international cricket and understand what it’s about.”
For Sri Lanka especially, the transition has been really difficult since the likes of Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene have retired. “India has a lot of young players so it’s just a matter of picking the best among them and giving them a longer run,” noted Sangakkara.
However, he became eloquent about the fact that Pandya had watched his captaincy for Gujarat Titans while mentoring Rajasthan Royals in the IPL.
“There is no doubt that his leadership is outstanding and we all saw that in the IPL. Now he has to combine that with the captaincy at national level. He has all the qualities to be a leader, although you don’t have to be a captain to be a leader.”
But there are aspects of captaincy that Pandya must attend to, and Sangakkara presented the Baroda man with a checklist.
“Now captain can be a different thing on the field. Reading moments, winning moments and strategizing takes keen insight and I think Hardik has all the ingredients to be a good captain. “The hardest thing is inspiring, speaking and managing his players in a group together to play with a vision and calm will come with experience as he becomes captain in tight games,” he added.
As for the new Indian T20 team, Sangakkara would follow Ruturaj Gaikwad and Sanju Samson.“I love watching Ruturaj Gaikwad bat and he is a player who can bat properly and still has a huge impact in T20 cricket and of course Sanju Samson as I want to see Sanju have a long in this Indian team run.
“Because he’s a very special player they have a good mix of pace, spin and utility players. It will be a tough challenge for Sri Lanka but in T20 they have the tools to keep up with them.” The Asian champions in this format are a force to be reckoned with.
“They have Skipper Dasun Shanaka, Charith Asalanka, Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis. You have a top order that can allow SL to make large sums.
“A powerhouse middle and late order with Skipper Shanaka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Wanindu Hasaranga on the way. SL hits low and we have the spin combo of Mahesh Theeksana and Hasaranga augmented by the raw pace of Lahiru Kumara and Dilshan Madhusanka.” (PTI)