'Completely useless thought' - Gambhir's brutal response to Shastri''s left-field suggestion
Gautam Gambhir minced no words in response to a unique suggestion made by erstwhile head coach Ravi Shastri in the build-up to the Asia Cup 2023. Shastri's backup plan for India's middle order in case it continued to deal with the absence of KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer was to include two additional left-handers alongside Ravindra Jadeja within the top 7.
Gambhir said it is a "useless thought", in that according to him it doesn't matter if the batter is a left-hander or a right-hander as long he is bringing quality, impact and consistent performances to the table. The former India opener insisted if Rahul and Shreyas are the best options the team has, they are the ones you will persist with for the World Cup.
The 2011 World Cup winner and a left-hander himself, Gambhir rejected the idea of three lefties making up the top 7. Shastri had urged the selectors to think of Ishan Kishan as an integral part of their plans even if it required demoting prodigious opener Shubman Gill to the middle-order and to also carry discussions on Tilak Varma and Yashasvi Jaiswal's names.
Gambhir, however, said the selection should be based purely on who the player is and whether he is providing value to the side at the high-pressure stage of a World Cup.
Gautam Gambhir's heated response to Shastri's left-handers idea
Shastri had given his comments on Star Sports' 'Selection Day' show ahead of the Asia Cup alongside two former chief selectors MSK Prasad and Sandeep Patil. The coach came up with the idea of packing the batting unit with multiple left-handers to counter various opposition match-ups.
"There are three other positions where I think two left-handers have to come in. Now, this is where the selectors' role comes in because they are watching. They know who's the guy who's hot. If Tilak Varma is hot, bring him in. If you think (Yashasvi) Jaiswal is hot, bring him in," Shastri said.
"If you have persisted with Ishan Kishan for the last six to eight months, and he's going to keep wickets, he comes in, in any case. But, get two left-handers," he added. "Including Jaddu, there should be three left-handers in the top seven. Ishan Kishan has been keeping for the last 15 months. Why go somewhere else?"
Gambhir had a different take on the matter, though, and felt to pack the side with left-handers for the sake of it wouldn't be wise and it's the quality and the impact value the selection shall be based on.
"It is not important whether he is a left-hander or a right-hander. The debate that is going on that we need three left-handers is a completely useless thought," Gambhir told Star Sports. "You look at the quality of the player and not how many left-handers you have."
"A good player whether a right-hander or left-hander will play well in every condition. So if Iyer plays well, or Rahul scores runs then pick them. It's not necessary to pick left-handers if they are not in form."
"I don't think there was any need to even start this left-hander debate. If you wanted left-handers then you have Yashasvi Jaiswal also. You always look at the quality and the form and not the quantity," he added.