Mumbai: Offering a piece of advice to the World Cup-bound India players living out of their suitcase for months, opener Rohit Sharma and former pace spearhead Zaheer Khan Tuesday said: ‘listen to your body’. The suggestion came amid a debate around the workload management of players, now gearing up for a gruelling Indian Premier League, which will end barely days before the ICC showpiece begins in the United Kingdom on May 30.
“It’s going to be challenging as always. We have been on the road for last three or four years. We have played a lot of back to back cricket. It depends on individuals. You should always listen to your body,” Rohit said.
Rohit is leading the Mumbai Indians in the IPL with Zaheer being the team’s Director of cricket operations.
“Yes, the World Cup is our priority. The IPL is also one of the biggest tournaments in the world. That is our priority as well. Keeping everything in mind we would take a decision collectively (on workload factor) on each individual,” the swashbuckling batsman said.
Zaheer felt that it was up to the individuals to listen to their bodies as far as workload was concerned. “I have always felt it’s an individual call. You have to listen to body and respond. I think we all recognise how important the World Cup is as a tournament and we also understand what the IPL brings to the table – match practice and intensity.
“You don’t want a lay-off for a long time for any cricketer. He needs to be in touch and dealing with pressure. That is also going to be a huge factor in the World Cup. We understand all that and steps will be taken,” the former India pacer said.
Zaheer said no player should play in the IPL thinking what could happen if he gets injured ahead of the World Cup.
“There has been a lot of talk about workload. You have to trust each and every member of the World Cup squad. We don’t want them to play in the tournament thinking ‘if I give 100 per cent I may get injured and be blamed for it’. We need to take that pressure away from them.
“Playing more and more matches has always worked for me. We all need to make peace with the workload talk and the World Cup talk. We understand how important it is and, at the same, time need to create a scenario where everyone is trusting them,” Zaheer said.
Rohit added, “Some of the players that I have spoken to in the Indian team and here, like to keep in touch, they like to keep playing. They are smart, they know when they need to take a back seat and rest.
Rohit said he will open in all the games of Mumbai Indians this season, having batted at number four in a lot of games last season.
“In the past, I have batted in the middle order and opened also in a few games. This year I will open the batting in all the games, that’s for sure,” said Rohit ahead of MI’s season opener here on March 24.
“Yes, the World Cup is one of the factors, but also while keeping in mind that this is where I bat for india and that’s where I have got a lot of my success of late,” he said.
Rohit said he has the freedom to take the decision to bat at the top as he has an experienced match-winner like Yuvraj Singh to play the role he had played in the previous seasons.
According to the MI skipper, there is also Siddesh Lad, a consistent scorer for Mumbai in domestic cricket, to fill in the number four slot. Zaheer felt that IPL form would count towards selection for a few slots in India’s World Cup squad.
“Look at the past. Has IPL helped Indian selectors in identifying players. The answer is – yes. Has someone been picked on IPL performance – the answer is again yes. I am sure the form in IPL will matter for grabbing those available spots,” he said.