I hope Suryakumar Yadav becomes the X-factor for India: Rohit Sharma ahead of the T20 World Cup

Looking ahead to the T20 World Cup this month, Team India captain Rohit Sharma spoke about the form of of Suryakumar Yadav, and said he hopes the middle-order batter can give his side the edge in Australia.

“Surya is in good form. I hope he continues to bat in that way, high on confidence,” he told reporters on Friday. “He is a confident player. He plays fearlessly, he uses his skill set efficiently. I hope he becomes the x-factor.”

The 35-year-old said that fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah has been one of the most crucial players for India in the recent past, and his presence will be missed at the World Cup, but he had to be left out of the team in order to safeguard his career.

Rohit spoke at large about how India has been trying to develop its bench strength over the past few years in order to deal with situations like this. All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja will also be missing from the squad due to injury.

“You can’t do anything about injuries. We talked to specialists to do everything we can to make him play the World Cup. But his career is more important. He is 27-28, we can’t take risks. He has a lot of cricket left in him. We will miss him (Bumrah),” he said. “Injuries are part of the game. Nothing much can be done about it. If you play so many games, there will be injuries. Our focus is on improving bench strength. That’s why you saw that we give chances to the younger players.”

For the blockbuster opening game of the World Cup between India and Pakistan, Rohit said there will be no late changes to the already decided playing XI. “For our game (against Pakistan), we will be well prepared. Everyone knows who is going to play. I don’t believe in last-minute decisions,” he said.

His counterpart, Pakistan’s Babar Azam, also mentioned that the focus will be on trying to block out the noise in preparation for the much-anticipated opening match. “When you play India, it’s a high-intensity game. Fans also wait for it. We enjoy it on the field. We will try to play good cricket,” Babar said.

Confidence in Pakistan middle order: Babar Azam

Pakistan’s solid form coming into the World Cup has been largely aided by the opening partnerships between Babar and Mohammad Rizwan. The team does, however, tend to drop off and miss out on crucial runs in the middle overs due to a stumbling middle order. Babar thinks the middle order might just be coming into form at the right time.

“The middle order’s performances have been really good right before the World Cup,” he said. “Nawaz and Shadab have both come in good for us recently, they have chipped in well. Before such an important event, it is definitely a good sign.”

With Shaheen Afridi’s last-minute confirmation for the World Cup, after recovering from injury just in time, Babar weighed in on the importance of his side’s fast bowling contingent. “Pakistan have always created and introduced fast bowlers. Our fast bowling team is strong. Shaheen will make it stronger. We have played different combinations and they have all performed. It’s our opportunity to show our ability and different combinations of players,” he said.

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