'Good strategy to put Suryakumar Yadav under pressure' - Hayden welcomes this change for Asia Cup
Matthew Hayden was pleased with India's selection for the coming Asia Cup 2023, particularly how the squad picked this Monday (August 21) creates competition for spots and puts existing choices under pressure heading into the 50-over World Cup in October-November.
The former Aussie batting giant based his assessment on the inclusion of young left-hander Tilak Varma as an outlier in the squad, putting the struggling Suryakumar Yadav under greater stress for his spot in the side. While both are unlikely to make the starting Asia Cup playing XI, the legend believes it's a win-win scenario for the team management.
Even though he garnered praise and suggestions on his promise with a bright start in the T20I arena for India, Varma's selection came as a massive surprise. But chief selector Ajit Agarkar said on the back of his impressive List A record, the attacking instinct, left-hand utility and part-time bowling skills that the Hyderabadi brings to the table were too enticing to ignore.
With both of India's first-choice middle-order players KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer returning in time for the continental event, an immediate opportunity to play is unlikely for Tilak Varma. However, spending time with the senior squad will help him grow his knowledge and skill bank.
Hayden on Tilak putting Suryakumar under pressure
For Hayden, the influx of players such as Tilak Varma also augurs well for the competition for slots in the squad and forces currently out-of-form batters like Suryakumar Yadav to pull their socks quickly. Perhaps the world's most dominant T20I batter right now, Suryakumar has been a pale shadow of himself in the One-Day format.
Plagued with inconsistent game time in a calendar filled with T20Is, the backup middle-order player averages just 24.33 after 24 innings with the bat. His last score six scores - 0, 0, 0, 19, 24 and 35 against Australia and West Indies - being vindictive of a player struggling to grasp the tempo of the longer version despite obvious skill and gusto about him.
"We've seen the class of Tilak Varma. I think it's a good strategy in terms of not just this World Cup but even potentially getting into the next World Cup as well," Hayden was quoted saying by ESPNcricinfo at an event in Mumbai.
"The great thing about India is it's got a really solid one-two-three combination. Similar to Australia actually, when you look at their last four or five months, they've had a really good and strong - what we like to call - the engine room. And then they've got some good problems to solve through the middle order."
"And if they can fill spots with talented young players like Tilak Varma, put pressure on someone like Suryakumar Yadav, I think that's a good strategy. Keep everyone honest in the side and performing. So not a bad move. I think it's a great side," he added.