“But we were motivated to do something. And by winning the World Cup, we created history.”
India won the T20 World Cup despite having played only a solitary T20I before the tournament; it was a brand-new format, after all. On top of that, many of the senior pros, like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, had opted out. It wasn’t a rag-tag team, with the likes of Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Irfan Pathan, Ajit agarkar and Gautam Gambhir in the mix, but no one gave them a chance. They still won.
And the impact: the birth of the IPL.
For India, Hardik Pandya returning to being an impact allrounder of the highest T20 class has been a big plus in the lead-up to the World Cup; it has allowed the team to get the right balance.
“India should play with five bowlers and go with Pandya as the sixth bowler,” Rajput said. “Because if a bowler is having a bad day then you should have an option. I would go with the combination of three medium pacers and two spinners because when we won in 2007, we went with three fast bowlers, while Bhajji [Harbhajan] and Yuvi [Yuvraj] used to bowl spin.
“The [current] team combination is good, but it depends on how you play that day. Because in this format, one bowler or one batsman can change the match. So we have to be at the top of our game at all times.”