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Exclusive: Brett Lee on Rohit-led Team India’s T20 WC chances

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NEW DELHI: With the announcement of India’s T20 World Cup squad expected in the coming weeks, Australian cricket legend Brett Lee believes that Team India, despite their loss in the ICC ODI World Cup final at home, will be the frontrunners for the title in the 2024 edition.

The coveted tournament is scheduled to commence on June 2 and will be held in the US and the West Indies.

India’s last triumph in a T20 World Cup was in the inaugural edition in 2007 when the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led team clinched victory over Pakistan by five runs in the final, marking their sole title victory in the tournament since its inception.

Since their 2007 triumph, India have reached the final only once in eight editions, during the 2014 tournament in Bangladesh, where they suffered a defeat to Sri Lanka by six wickets.

Can Rohit Sharma‘s men secure the title this time around?

Lee, who represented Australia in 76 Tests, 221 ODIs, and 25 T20Is between 1999 and 2012, is confident that India possesses all the necessary firepower to lift the coveted trophy.

TimesofIndia.com caught up with Lee in an exclusive interview and spoke about India at the T20 World Cup, the young pace sensation Mayank Yadav, Rohit vs Hardik Pandya, Gautam Gambhir.

Excerpts:

How much pressure will it be on India to win the T20 World Cup, especially after losing the ICC ODI World Cup final at home?

When assessing the T20 format, I firmly believe it harmonizes well with the Indian team’s strengths, both now and in the future. The rapid pace of T20 cricket emphasizes quick decision-making, adaptability, and explosive performances, qualities even my team has consistently demonstrated in the past.

All players excel under pressure, showcasing dynamic batting, innovative bowling, and agile fielding. Additionally, the concise nature of T20 matches provides flexibility in team composition and tactics, fostering opportunities for players to shine so I feel India have all the advantages.

Mayank

Mayank Yadav (TOI Photo)

Your take on young pace sensation Mayank Yadav. How should his workload be managed?

Given the susceptibility of fast bowlers to injuries, it is paramount to approach his workload cautiously.

As a newcomer, Mayank displays commendable raw talent and finesse in his bowling technique, deserving careful nurturing. Recognising his potential, particularly with his exciting 150k per hour pace, consistency becomes imperative. Drawing from my two decades of experience maintaining such high speeds, I advise Mayank to prioritise fitness and strive for consistency in his performances.

Was it the right call by Mumbai Indians to give captaincy to Hardik Pandya in place of Rohit Sharma?

Based on my observations, it’s evident that both Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya have garnered strong backing from their teammates in the IPL.

Delving into the history of the Mumbai Indians, it’s notable that they often start off matches at a measured pace, gradually building momentum.

However, once either Rohit or Hardik finds their rhythm, their performances tend to escalate rapidly, driving the team towards success.

Consequently, I find myself reassured, regardless of whether it’s Rohit or Hardik, or anyone else leading the charge for the team, as both possess the capability to inspire and elevate their teammates to greater heights.

Rohit

Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya (AFP Photo)

You were part of the title-winning KKR team in 2012 under Gautam Gambhir. Do you think mentor Gambhir can help KKR win the title this time?

As a member of the 2012 title-winning KKR team under Gautam Gambhir’s leadership, I acknowledge his invaluable mentorship. Gambhir’s insights and strategic acumen from the dugout undoubtedly contributed to KKR’s campaign. His wealth of experience and cricketing intellect could potentially play a crucial role in guiding KKR towards another title victory this season.

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