posted on 2018-11-03 20:01:04
posted by Samreen Razzaqui
A closer look at the squad for the T20is will tell you that the strategy and planning around the World T20 2020 seems much clearer than the planning of World Cup 2019. The T20i squad for the series against Windies includes a perfect unit with strong openers, middle order batsmen, lower order batsmen and a bowling unit. Here, it is evidently clear that the selectors and management have a demarcated plan and know exactly which kind of players they want in the scheme of things. In fact, the announced 12-man squad for the first T20i at Eden Gardens is one of the best teams on paper, despite the absence of Virat Kohli.
With Rohit Sharma’s shrewd and smart captaincy set to take over for this 3-match series, expect things to get interesting particularly because he is adept at bringing out the best out of his players especially in the shortest format. More so, because the Windies are much more intimidating sight in this format. Rohit is also a fan of match-ups, it’ll be interesting to see how he utilizes this spin-packed bowling line-up against the strong Windies hitters.
By now, it is evident that Rohit Sharma really likes being given the responsibility. In the Asia Cup too, he was leading from the front and making a strong case for adopting the split captaincy concept. In any case, he is rightly undroppable atleast in limited overs cricket. His only drawback remained that of inconsistency, but that’s almost faded into oblivion in the last one year.
And quite honestly, even though Shikhar Dhawan may have looked slightly rusty in the ODI series vs Windies, and may not have been able to convert his starts, compromising on the ‘OG’ opening partnership was still asking for too much. These T20is are a good time for him to bring his touch back before he heads to Australia.
KL Rahul is playing one down in Virat Kohli’s absence. While it is true that he is best suited as an opener and was in fact, even specifically told that his role in ODIs is that of a back-up opener, his style of play fits the role of a No. 3 batsman. He has also shown he is relatively more flexible in the shortest format with his stint with RCB in IPL – he has batted as an opener, at No. 3 and also at No. 4. Now is his chance to show what he is really made of and silence all talks about him.
Manish Pandey, despite a terrific outing with India A in the quadrangular series, didn’t get another chance in the ODI set-up considering Ambati Rayudu had cemented his position in the team. However, him being in the announced squad in the first T20i means it’s not the end of him even though it may have looked otherwise. It is also to be remembered that this management does not shy away from picking players who do well in different formats. If Pandey can pull off something in the back-to-back T20i series, he can be back in the reckoning for the ODIs. If nothing, he can be the back-up No. 4 for Rayudu in case of fitness concerns or if he hits a rough patch before the WC.
These two batsmen from Karnataka, in particular, have a little more pressure on them to do something extraordinary because of multiple factors.
Rishab Pant, on the other hand, is a natural in this format. In fact, he was one of the few sure shot names in the predicted XI. It is only fair because not only is this the perfect opportunity for him to become MS Dhoni’s successor and assure fans that the former’s absence from the squad was for a reason. It is also important because he was hastily dropped from the ODIs after being dismissed early in the two games he played. It was hasty because he played like he was expected to, keeping in context the match situation, the position and his style of play.
The case is similar for Dinesh Karthik. Not many know why he was dropped from the ODI squad against the Windies when he didn’t do much wrong in the Asia Cup. He got the runs, albeit a little slowly and did look out of sorts against few oppositions. However, that did not warrant getting dropped from the squad entirely. His efforts in the Nidahas Trophy final were too good to let him go completely, especially in the T20is. And while the squad has some explosive batsmen in the form of Rohit, Rahul and Pant, you need a calm head like Karthik too who can navigate the course sensibly when the situation demands. He only needs to show that he can pace the innings better and be consistent in doing so.
However, apart from Rahul, who plays at what position is a little uncertain. Those are likely to be impromptu decisions based on what the match situation demands.
Lower middle order
India will be handing the much awaited debut to Krunal Pandya, who perhaps is the ‘X-factor’ the team needs. It comes particularly because of the absence of his brother Hardik, but this call-up was long due and there is no better time to back the spin all-rounder. One of the best things about his inclusion is that he is extremely flexible, both in terms of batting and bowling. His presence means a likely compromise on the Kul-Cha spin duo because very rarely will the conditions demand a bowling line-up with three spinners but, it is safe to say that Sr. Pandya is worth that. Though the opportunity has come late, Krunal needs to show why so many people are rooting for him.
The Bhuvi-Bumrah combination is sacred, we know it. The absence of either in the equation shows the result isn’t as convincing. While Bhuvneshwar Kumar has looked in and out of rhythm since his return from injury in ODIs, this is his chance to show why he is one of the most sought after bowlers in T20 cricket. Bumrah’s inclusion is a no-brainer, he is as important as Kohli in the XI, if not more.
Everyone has been mighty impressed with Khaleel after the kind of performance he has shown in ODIs. Although, it looked like the left-arm threat was being negated with ease, he also showed he is a quick learner and grasps the hang of things almost immediately. Whether he can replicate that in T20is is yet to be seen and perhaps one of the things fans and management are looking forward to.
Kuldeep Yadav can walk into the XI, no matter what the conditions. He belongs to the rare species of spinners who do not shy away from flighting the ball. In the attempt to tease the batsmen, if he is at the receiving end, he is quick to make a comeback more often than not.
While Yuzvendra Chahal is also one of the few who belong to the category, he hasn’t been as effective off-late. This is his chance to change that and make sure he is undroppable even in ODIs. However, in all probability, it is Khaleel who will get the nod ahead of him considering that fielding 3 spinners opposite Windies is asking for trouble.
Krunal Pandya, of course, will be the other spinner.