Yuvraj Singh (left) and Sandeep Patil (Image courtesy: AFP)
Yuvraj Singh (left) and Sandeep Patil (Image courtesy: AFP)

Former Indian cricketer Sandeep Patil was the chairman of national selection committee that picked the squad for the 2015 World Cup. Yuvraj Singh, India’s 2011 World Cup hero, was a notable exclusion and created a controversy when his father Yograj Singh openly criticised the selectors and the then captain MS Dhoni. In 2016, it was under his tenure when Yuvraj made a comeback to the T20I side. A year after ending his services as the chairman of selectors, Patil has called Yuvraj a “God’s gift” to Indian cricket. He mentioned that form and fitness will hold the key to the seasoned campaigner’s participation in the 2019 World Cup. ALSO READ: Sandeep Patil hopeful that BCCI will support indoor cricket

Yuvraj was rested for the Sri Lanka series by the MSK Prasad-led selection committee. The southpaw was not considered for the first 3 ODIs against Australia as well. However, Patil remains optimistic about Yuvraj’s comeback.

“It’s fitness and form,” Patil told PTI when asked about the future of the 35-year-old. “I am not the selector now. Two years is too long a period and the kind of injuries you have seen, there is too much workload on each player.”

Yuvraj, who last played for India against the West Indies in June, is only the fifth Indian to play over 300 ODIs and was also a part of Team India during the Champions Trophy. Hailing Yuvraj’s contribution, Patil added, “Yuvraj was like a God’s gift, I have been his ardent fan and I will remain an ardent fan of Yuvraj. But he has to put runs on the board and he has to prove his fitness.”

‘Dhoni, a special player’

Battling criticism, MS Dhoni was one of India’s heroes, in their 5-0 ODI whitewash against Sri Lanka. Patil termed the former Indian captain a “special player”. Indeed, Dhoni is one of the finest to represent ODIs and brought up a couple of significant milestones during the Sri Lanka series.

“It will be looked after by the professionals, who are working with the Indian team, so it will be wrong on my part to say what is going to happen with Dhoni, Yuvraj. But they are special cricketers, I wish I had even five per cent of what they (kind of talent) have,” the 61-year-old.

Patil has praised the current selection panel for resting Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin for the limited-overs. He oversaw a difficult period in Indian cricket during his tenure (2012-2016). India had the tough job to replace players such as Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Zaheer Khan and Virender Sehwag.

“We had a very difficult task of replacing players such as Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and get these youngsters. Somewhere, in my mind, I am very happy that the bold decisions which we took are giving tremendous results,” added Patil, who also praised Hardik Pandya’s rise but dismissed the comparisons of the Baroda all-rounder with Kapil Dev. Patil said it will take Pandya “200 births” to take Kapil’s place.

Patil hailed India’s current form and the way “fitness” has been prioritised. However, he said the history of cricket has saw a shift in dominance after every 10 years.

“Indian team is at the top now, they are in top form, they are in top fitness, the combination, everything is going right. But, if you look at the history of cricket, about every 10 years things changed. It was West Indies who ruled the 1950s and 60s, then it was Australia, then it was Pakistan, South Africa and now India is ruling so it would be very wrong of me to say that.

“It’s cricket, it’s a funny game, you have to go out there, start afresh. Every day is fresh, every over is fresh, every ball is fresh and to repeat that is not easy. India is playing great cricket,” he said.

India have played majorly at home and that has been one of the reasons for Virat Kohli’s side’s dominance. Patil feels how the team fares abroad will mark its legacy as every team have struggled to register wins outside home.

“It will be an acid test for India (touring South Africa and England), and for that matter if you look at the history of each team, whenever each team has travelled away from their home countries they have struggled.

“Let’s not talk only about India. Australia, when they came here, they struggled, and similarly, when we go there we struggle. So it’s the same for each team,” Patil concluded.