To listen click here
New Delhi, July 22 – Former India opener Wasim Jaffer said he was surprised at the selection of fast bowler Umran Malik for the T20I series against West Indies in August, citing him leaking runs in the matches he’s played in the shortest format as well as in the IPL.
In eight T20Is, Malik has played since his debut, he has picked 11 wickets at an economy rate of 10.48. Malik is also included in India’s squad for the ODI series against West Indies, where he’s picked 13 wickets in eight games at an economy rate of 6.45. In IPL 2023, Malik played only seven matches, picking five wickets at an economy rate of 10.35.
“I am a bit surprised by Umran Malik’s selection because we have seen him concede a lot of runs in IPL and T20Is. I think he is more suited to Test or ODI cricket. He needs to learn the art of T20 cricket. I don’t think he is ready for it. He is selected despite being dropped in some games for the IPL (this year) as he was expensive in those games,” said Jaffer, an expert for JioCinema, in a select virtual media interaction.
He further expressed surprise over selection of pacer Avesh Khan and was delighted over the return of leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi. “Also, Avesh Khan hasn’t done much to force selection. But I understand he has the potential and has played for India before, so I wish him to do well. But the bowling department (for the T20Is) could have been a bit better. Good to see Ravi Bishnoi back too as he was completely nowhere after last year’s Asia Cup, but did well in the IPL.”
For the T20Is against West Indies, India have picked Yashasvi Jaiswal and Tilak Varma, two left-handed batters who did exceedingly well in IPL 2023. With the Men’s T20 World Cup happening in 2024, the inclusion of Jaiswal and Varma adds an element of modernity in India’s batting order.
Jaffer believes that the batting department looks good for T20Is against West Indies, while adding that wicketkeeper-batter Jitesh Sharma can be India’s ideal finisher in T20Is. “I think it’s a good squad. In batting, we look better and need to play explosive and fearless games, something which England has been doing. All those talks did happen when Rinku Singh wasn’t included.”
“But I feel that Jitesh Sharma will be the guy who can be the answer to the number five, six slot where Rishabh Pant was previously playing. We need an explosive player there in that finishing role. I understand that for those two guys, the spots aren’t there right now. Other than that, we look good as a batting side.”
In his time with Vidarbha in domestic cricket, Jaffer has seen Jitesh’s transformation from being picked by Mumbai Indians as an opener to being lost in wilderness, before becoming the designated finisher for his state in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and carrying on the same role for Punjab Kings in last two seasons of the IPL.
“He now bats at a different position and I think he has got the temperament. We have seen how destructive he is. I feel he is not just a finisher. He is a quality player who can bat from number four to six/seven. He can hit sixes so easily and is an asset to any side.”
“I feel how the way the game is going forward, you need those kinds of players who can change the complexion of the game very quickly, and Jitesh Sharma is one of those very important players,” added Jaffer, who worked as Punjab Kings batting coach in IPL 2023.”
He also feels that Jitesh can come good in ODI cricket. “He has got that technique and is a very good wicketkeeper; he’s one of those good keepers who you will find in the country. The challenge for him going forward is to not just play a 20-ball 40 kind of innings.”
“In Punjab Kings, we tried to send him to number four or five because if he gets a lot more balls to face, he can also score 70-80. That was the plan as someone like him will be an asset for the Indian team going forward.”