Former India cricketer Saba Karim believes that Venkatesh Iyer and Ruturaj Gaikwad should be part of the Indian squad as soon as possible. Gaikwad has scored three back-to-back hundreds for Maharashtra and Iyer recently amassed 151 runs for Madhya Pradesh against Chandigarh.
Iyer stormed into the limelight after he made his IPL debut for Kolkata Knight Riders in the second leg of the tournament in September this year in the UAE. Gaikwad was the orange cap winner in the tournament with 635 runs for the title-winning Chennai Super Kings.
Iyer went to make his T20I debut for India in the three-match series against New Zealand at home in November. Gaikwad was also part of the squad but didn’t get the opportunity to play. Both the players are currently the top two run-getters in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Gaikwad and Iyer have amassed 435 and 348 runs respectively. Gaikwad is batting at an average of 145 and a strike rate of 108.20 while Iyer has had an average of 87 and a strike rate of 138.64.
Saba Karim calls for the selection of Ruturaj Gaikwad and Venkatesh Iyer
The former wicket-keeper batsman believes that if India is looking to prepare for the ODI World Cup in 2023, Iyer and Gaikwad should be included in the team. These players will get good enough exposure before the showpiece event. The tournament will be solely hosted by India during the winters of 2023.
“I believe that Venkatesh Iyer and Ruturaj Gaikwad have almost entered the first-team squad, and I’m talking about white-ball cricket. If we have to start the preparation for the 2023 World Cup, these two players should be part of the squad as soon as possible. They should be given as much exposure as possible.”
Both these players provide a different spectrum for the team. Gaikwad can be the backup opener with Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul going strong. On the other hand, Iyer has performed really well while batting at No. 5 or No. 6 in the Vijay Hazare trophy. If we are looking at the replacement for Hardik Pandya, we have already found the player.” Saba Karim reasoned
The Patna-born further added that the India head coach Rahul Dravid must have thought about a core of 23-25 players who can be groomed for white-ball cricket. He believes Dravid must have started preparing for the World Cups.
“Rahul Dravid has seen these players for quite a while now. The way Dravid used to prepare as a player, he must be preparing in the same way as a coach. He must have thought about a core of 23-25 players in the white-ball cricket circuit. He must have started the preparation for the World Cups.”
“Venkatesh Iyer should definitely be part of the South Africa tour. He must then be tracked be in the Ranji Trophy as well because I believe he is an all-format player. It is also time that Gaikwad is in contention for the Test squad.” Karim explained.
India’s next limited-overs assignment will be the three-match ODI series against South Africa in their backyard after the Test series consisting of as many games.