ABU DHABI: Former India batter Yusuf Pathan on Tuesday said fans should support the national team whether it wins or lose and the 15 players picked for the ongoing T20 World Cup should be backed.
He was responding to a question during an online interaction on behalf of the Abu Dhabi T10 league on the criticism of the Indian team and the online abuse of pacer Mohammed Shami after the 10-wicket defeat to Pakistan in Dubai on Sunday.
"As I said, no cricket team or cricketer wants to lose...we all give 100 per cent. As a fan I would say it is just one match, it is the start of the tournament. As fans, we have to motivate the team and don't demotivate (them).We have to support our team. It took 29 years to lose one match (to Pakistan)," said Pathan.
"We have to back the 15 players who have been selected for the World Cup. We have to back the players and show that we are behind them. When the team wins, there is a lot of praise. During tough times also, when we lose we should show support to them," he added.
He said that there was no reason why the Virat Kohli-led team could not go on and win the tournament despite starting with a loss in the Super 12. "They will do well. It is just the first game of the World Cup. There are still games to be played...We can win (the WC) from here.I don't see why we can't do it," Pathan, who has featured in 57 ODIs and 22 T20 Internationals, said.
On whether star all-rounder Hardik Pandya deserved a spot in the playing XI as a pure batter, Pathan said it was for the team management to decide and added that there were options available. "I don't know what the team management is thinking. If a cricketer is unfit, he does not have a place in the team. An all-rounder has a big role to play in the team. The player (all-rounder) has to contribute to the team," said Pathan, who was part of the Indian squad that won the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007.
"There are several cricketers who can replace him, like Ishan Kishan, who did well in the IPL, there is Shardul Thakur, who has done well as an all-rounder recently, did well in England. The team management can only tell what they are thinking...Shreyas Iyer is also there as a pure batter, he has played well in the last two years. What the team management thinks is very important," he added.
About the addition of two new teams in the IPL from next season, Pathan said "This will benefit the many first-class cricketers in India who emerge as highest scorers, highest wicket-takers, in domestic tournaments, but don't always get an opportunity (in IPL). It's also great for the fan base, as Gujarat and UP (Uttar Pradesh) are big states who love their cricket. Indian cricket, too, can find players through the two new franchises."
Asked how different it was to prepare for T10 cricket, Pathan, a big hitting batter and off-spinner, said strategy was crucial just like in the other formats. "Obviously, T20, hitting boundaries and sixes; players have taken it to the next level with strategy. The number of overs and time have reduced. T20 is there and is very successful. At the end of the day, it is cricket, played with bat and ball. It is all about strategy even in T10. How you adapt will mean how successful you will be in T10," he said.