'It will be huge gamble...': Gambhir's outright warning to Team India if Suryakumar is picked in first XI for World Cup

September 25,2023

Suryakumar Yadav finally repaid the faith that head coach Rahul Dravid and captain Rohit Sharma has shown over the last 24 months as he scored his first fifty in ODI cricket in 590 days in the opening match of the series against Australia on Friday in Mohali. A little too late probably but Suryakumar timed his knock of 51 almost a fortnight before India's World Cup campaign begins against Pat Cummins' men in Chennai. But does the solitary knock slot him straightaway into India's first XI of the World Cup? India batting legend Gautam Gambhir does show a possibility, but with it came a sheer warning for Rohit and Dravid.

Project Suryakumar began moments after the India batter topped the ICC T20I batting rankings following a blistering show in 2022 in the shortest format. In a bid to reap the benefits of his T20 form, Rohit backed Suryakumar for the role. Although he was a mere back-up until then to Shreyas Iyer, the latter's injury in March saw India give Suryakumar a consistent run in 2023, but the batter failed to come out with flying colours with not a single fifty while averaging just around 12.

However, on Friday, in the opening ODI match against Australia, Suryakumar smashed an entertaining fifty to help India wrap up the chase of 276 runs with 8 balls to spare. But does the knock guarantee him a spot in the first XI in the World Cup?

Speaking to Star Sports on YouTube, Gambhir explained that if Suryakumar is indeed a first-choice player for the World Cup, he should be playing at No. 7 for India as a finisher, but warned that it would be a huge gamble given that the team would then have to play Ravindra Jadeja at No. 5 and thereby put pressure on the top four.

“When you go for a World Cup, you generally have a fixed playing XI. You don't chop or change. Remember the 2011 World Cup, we hardly made any changes. Yusuf Pathan played 5-6 matches at the start and then it was Suresh Raina. If Suryakumar Yadav is in your first playing XI then I would want him to bat at 6-7, but the big question will then be who will bat at No. 5. Then Jadeja can bat at No. 5, Hardik at 6 and Suryakumar as finisher where he can bat in the final 15-20 overs. But it will be a huge gamble deciding whether you want Jadeja at No. 5 and Suryakumar, in the form that he is in ODI cricket, at No. 7. This would put a lot of responsibility on the top four,” he said.