India made some interesting calls while setting their squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup.
Leaving out one of their best-limited over openers Shikhar Dhawan, bringing back Ravichandran Ashwin in the white-ball side almost after five years, excluding Yuzvendar Chahal, and including five spinners in the final squad, were indeed some bold decisions taken by the selection committee.
The winners of the inaugural edition of the T20 World Cup, India are always one of the favourites leading up to any ICC event. In this year, however, even though the team is filled with superstars, the form is a major concern for some of the biggest names in the team.
Virat Kohli, the captain who is expected to lead the men in blue for one last time in this format, has been struggling to regain his form with the bat for a long time now.
Kohli averages 86.33 in T20 World Cups, scoring around 777 runs in 16 innings. He also stands among the top five highest run-scorers in the tournament’s history. A batter with such incredible stats, his form might just harm team India’s progress.
Rohit Sharma has also been inconsistent in the recent past. In the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL), Rohit averaged below 30 with the bat-- which, by his standards-- is mediocre.
Two other highly rated Indian batsmen, who are potentially the mainstays of the top order - Ishan Kishan and Surya Kumar Yadav were also quite lowkey throughout the season. They had an average of 26.77 and 22.64 respectively with the willow in hand and in the absence of Shreyas Iyer and Shikhar Dhawan, it will be a tough challenge for the management to fix up a proper batting order.
The middle-order too looks shabby, considering the off form of Rishab Pant and Hardik Pandya.
For a certain period, Hardik served India well as the fourth pacer. His all-round capabilities made him stand out in the cricketing world. However, in recent times, Hardik has been quite ineffective for whichever team he played for.
Since the beginning of 2021, he has lost touch in his batting and hasn’t been regular with the ball either, after sustaining an injury during the 2018 Asia Cup.
Hence, the last moment inclusion of Shardul Thakur replacing Axar Patel, who has been in sublime form since the Australian test summer, might just provide India with the service of a proper pace-bowling all-rounder.
The selection of spinners also raised questions. Yuzvendar Chahal, who has been one of the most successful spinners in this format for India (63 wickets in 49 innings), was shockingly left out to give place to Rahul Chahar.
Interestingly, Chahal had a much better tournament (IPL) than Chahar. In the second phase in UAE, Chahal picked up 14 scalps in 8 innings at a very decent economy, where Chahar with only 2 wickets in 4 games, couldn’t live up to the expectations.
Among all the negatives, the biggest positive is perhaps Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s presence in the dressing room as the mentor. He can undoubtedly help the players both mentally and tactically which can be a great boost for the team throughout the tournament.
On the other hand, two players - KL Rahul at the top and Ravindra Jadeja in the middle, can win games for India single-handedly and are definitely x-factors to this side.
Rahul finished his IPL season scoring 626 runs in 13 innings at an average of 48.2 and being the highest runs scorer. Meanwhile, Jadeja too looked threatening throughout the season, in all three departments. If these two pull off their game, it will be difficult for any opponent to resist the Indian attack.
The only three genuine pacers of the side-- Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, have collectively picked up 121 wickets in their T20I career. Bearing in mind their abilities, both with the new and old ball, handling them will be a tough job for the opponent.
If the Indian cricketers do their homework and sort out their lackings, it is a side who are absolute favourites to lift the trophy and show the world what they are capable of.