Shastri hails Yuvraj as impact player, match-winner

Adelaide, Jan 25 (IANS) Ahead of the first Twenty20 International against Australia on Tuesday, Indian team director Ravi Shastri on Monday heaped praise on limited overs specialist and experienced batsman Yuvraj Singh, terming him as an impact player, match-winner and someone whose record speaks for itself.

India will seek to reverse their One-Day International (ODI) series blues and hit some form ahead of the World Twenty20 when they face the hosts at the Adelaide Oval here.

India go into the series after suffering a 1-4 defeat in the ODI series. They are to host the World T20 from March 8 to April 3 where they will take on New Zealand in the opening match of their campaign on March 15 at Nagpur.

Yuvraj, who has not played for India since the 2014 World T20 final, is back in the national squad after a strong performance in the domestic Vijay Hazare Trophy.

“He’s (Yuvraj) an impact player with a proven record. He has got a fabulous record in T20 cricket, he’s explosive and he’s a match-winner. If he fires early for us, nothing like it,” Shastri said at the pre-match press conference.

Veteran pacer Ashish Nehra was included in the T20 squad after having a fine Indian Premier League (IPL) record of bowling at the death. The 36-year-old played his last international game in 2011. It is expected his experience will help the young Indian bowlers who were hammered by the Australia batsmen in the ODI series.

Talking about Nehra, Shastri stressed that fitness matters more in T20 cricket and not age.

“It’s also about how fit you are. Between 50 overs and 20 overs, there is a big difference, because there is 30 extra overs of fielding and six extra overs to bowl, and that can take its toll. So it’s a big difference between T20 cricket and 50 overs cricket. At the moment, we’ll wait and see how he goes in the T20 format,” he said.

“He (Nehra) has got a lot of experience. I think he has played two or three World Cups, and he has played a lot of T20 cricket. They’ve just come back from a domestic competition (the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20s), and experience is not bought or sold in the market, so when you get it, use it.”

Besides, Nehra and Yuvraj, veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has also been included in the squad. The 53-year-old said the side is going to try all sorts of combinations ahead of the World T20 at home.

“I think every game form here on till the World T20 will be extremely important. It gives you a chance to try different players and see what combination works best for you,” the former India batsman said.

“It’s about getting the right combination for the conditions you will play in. If that means senior players have to play, they play. If that means juniors have to play, we’ll have more of that. We have 16 players here, it’s our job to pick the best XI.”

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