Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma
Virat Kohli (left) and Rohit Sharma Image Credit: AFP

New Delhi: Former Indian cricketer and head coach Ravi Shastri wants the team to move on from stars like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma in T20Is and bring in young, high-performing players on the basis of the current form.

"First T20 series that comes up, play these guys [the youngsters], expose these guys. They [the selectors] should start blooding them right now," Shastri said on ESPNcricinfo's Runorder show, on being asked how soon players like Yashasvi Jaiswal, Jitesh Sharma and Tilak Varma should get into the national side.

"Players like Rohit, Virat Kohli, they are proven, you know what they are all about. I would go in that [good performers in the IPL] direction so that they get the opportunities, they get the exposure, whilst you keep the Virats and the Rohits fresh for one-day cricket and Test cricket."

"Your focus there with that kind of experience should move to Test cricket, red-ball cricket for the future World Test Championship, and they stay fresh [so that] there is not too much of cricket where there is an overkill," concluded Shastri.

The former Indian coach said that the current form should be a key criterion for selection in T20Is, including the stars like KL Rahul, Rohit and Virat. The ICC T20 World Cup 2024 is a year away.

"One year is a long time. Players can be in form, the form can disappear," he said.

"You will pick the best guys at the time, and then, of course, the experience will count, fitness will count. Who is hot at the moment, who is consistent, who has got the runs and where he has got the runs," added the former coach.

Shastri also opined that there should be a specialist player for each position and players should be forced into playing unfamiliar, ill-fitted roles while batting. He also wants a good mix of left-right-handed batters in the team.

"It should be the right man for the right job. It should not be a guy who bats at three or four for his franchise, and suddenly you make him bat at six or open the innings when it comes to picking a team for India," said Shastri.

"I would like the mix of left-hand-right-hand batting combination. Just like you look for a left-armer with the ball, I would like to see left-handers there. You see this IPL, teams that have done well, look at the mix that they have," added the coach.

Favouring Hardik for fulltime captaincy

Shastri had earlier called for Hardik Pandya to become the full-time T20I captain for India and feels that on evidence with Gujarat Titans in the IPL, Hardik will place the right people in the right positions.

"Oh, you will get that right with Hardik. He will get that right where he will want his six bowlers including himself and players for the right numbers," Shastri said. "Just seeing the way he has captained Gujarat Titans, you can see there is a player for a number and there is a role which he will take forward to the Indian team," added the former coach.

Jitesh has put himself out there as a wicketkeeper-batter who can put the game away with his remarkable IPL 2023 performance so far (265 runs in 12 innings at a strike rate of 158.68). However, India already has Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson, who have experience with the T20I team and may be put ahead of Jitesh in the hierarchy. Not to be forgotten is Rishabh Pant, who is anticipated to stay sidelined at least till the end of the year. But Jitesh stands out because he is a finisher.

"If there are other good openers, you might want a wicketkeeper who bats at six or seven. Yet, if your opening is a bit weak, you might want to look for a keeper who might open the batting," Shastri said. "That number becomes very important and what are your reserves, what are your strengths... Therein you fit in the bloke. It applies everywhere in that team," concluded the coach.