New Delhi: S Sreesanth and Rohit Sharma's omissions from India's 15-man squad for the forthcoming World Cup have left the legendary Wasim Akram surprised.
"Sree has been bowling quite well in recent times and has picked wickets in Test matches. He runs in, comes close to the wicket and has comeback with a much-improved attitude. I would have definitely included him in the World Cup squad," said Akram.
Sreesanth was a big influence in the recently-concluded Test series against South Africa, keeping the Proteas at bay with his aggression.
As far as Sharma was concerned, Akram said he has to learn it the "hard way".
"He is such a talented player. But Rohit has to learn it the hard way. Once you don't score runs consistently, this is bound to happen. I feel sorry for him," the former Pakistan captain said.
Akram, however, praised the selectors for striking the right combination and picking a balanced team.
"Not only does India s batting look good but there is also a lot of variety in bowling. I feel the selectors have struck the right balance. Under (MS) Dhoni's leadership, the team seems to be doing well," he said.
The left-arm seamer, who literally toyed with the best of batting lineups the world over during his heydays, said India's fortunes in the tournament would depend a lot on the senior players.
"The seniors are the backbone of this Indian team. Players like Sachin Tendukar and Virender Sehwag are the best in the business. Many have opined picking injury-prone players like Sachin, Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir is not a wise decision but I feel Tendulkar's presence is a must.
"India can afford to think of Sachin's replacement only if he is not fit a week ahead of the World Cup," Akram wrote for a sports website.
About Piyush Chawla's inclusion, which raised quite a few eyebrows, Akram said it was a wise decision by the selectors.
"The pure cricketing reason for Piyush Chawla's selection is that he is a leg-spinner and in subcontinental conditions, he has the variety, including a googly, which can come handy on turning tracks," he said.
"These small, yet critical, selection calls are taken after discussions with the captain and coach. I am sure they have made the decision on Chawla keeping everyone in the loop."
"As far as the team is concerned, it will go into the World Cup with a lot of confidence irrespective of the result in the ODI series in South Africa. The World Cup is a different ball game altogether where past results don't count.
Playing in front of passionate home fans can be really inspiring. The expectations are high but then the Indian boys are good at handling them.
Akram also praised Munaf Patel and Ashish Nehra for their contributions to the team.