@Ben_Wisden 3 minute read
India have named a 19-strong T20I squad to face England.
Despite winning their last T20I series, against Australia, the hosts have made several changes to their squad for that encounter, with both form and fitness coming into the equation.
Wisden.com managing editor Ben Gardner picks out six things of note from the announcement.
India aren’t afraid to change a winning side
Virat Kohli’s tenure as India captain has been defined, in part, by his willingness to tinker with his side, even when they have had success previously. Even with the T20 World Cup just round the corner, India are still trying to experiment and chop and change in an attempt to find their best XI. It’s an approach that contrasts with that of England, who have liked to pick a team and show some faith, allowing players to find their way back into form and try and hit big without fear of failure. This series will be an interesting test of which side has the right method.
The Tewatia fairytale continues apace
Deep into Rajasthan Royals’ chase of Kings XI Punjab’s 223 early in last year’s IPL, Rahul Tewatia must have wanted the ground to swallow him up. The journeyman all-rounder, having been promoted to No.4, could barely hit the ball off the square, and having crawled to 17 off 23, the game seemed gone. The Royals needed 17 runs an over, and Tewatia was taking a pounding on social media.
From that moment onwards, life could hardly have gone better. He smashed five sixes in the next over to kickstart a heist for the ages, the first act in a remarkable campaign in which everything the 27-year-old touched, be it with bat, ball, or in the field, turned to gold. Even as the Royals limped to a last-placed finish, a star had been born. Now, the next chapter is ready to be written, with India coming calling. Don’t be surprised if the tale ends with him lifting the T20 World Cup trophy in November.
Mumbai Indians pair receive belated reward for IPL excellence
Unlike Tewatia’s campaign, the performances of Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav in IPL 2020 were anything but a bolt from the blue. The former has long been one of the most highly rated young batsmen in the country, while the latter has consistently churned out the runs in the IPL and on the domestic circuit. They each starred in Mumbai Indians’ title win, both finishing with a run tally just either side of 500 runs and maintaining strike-rates nearing 150, but when India named their squad to face Australia, both were conspicuous by their absences.
There was particular sympathy for Suryakumar, a 30-year-old who might not get many more chances, though he wasn’t feeling sorry for himself, smashing an unbeaten 79 and staring down Kohli days after his snub. Both have now received their just rewards.
Rishabh Pant is back
Among his vociferous supporters, there was disgust when Rishabh Pant was left out of India’s white-ball squads to take on Australia. No matter if he struggled somewhat in the IPL, they said, this is a generational talent, and one who should be nurtured at all costs. Those acolytes have now been vindicated in some style, with a sequence of incendiary Test knocks ensuring it should be some time until India consider leaving out Pant from any of their squads again.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar starts the long road back
Once one of India’s most trusted seamers, Bhuvneshwar Kumar hasn’t been seen in national colours for well over a year, with a series of injuries putting a halt on his ambitions. His 2020 IPL campaign started promisingly, before another ailment, a thigh injury, ruled him out of the majority of the tournament. Having proven his fitness in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, India have seen enough to be able to justify recalling him.
Sanju Samson handling confuses yet again
It’s in Sanju Samson’s nature to be hit and miss. What makes him special is his lack of consideration for his wicket, allowing him to swing from ball one and take the game to the opposition. It can mean his stats don’t leap of the page, and a certain amount of trust is needed to reap the rewards.
After two bumper IPL campaigns in succession, he played two useful cameos in the first two T20Is against Australia, scoring at or above 150 on both occasions. But without notching a big score, India have seen fit to leave him out again. IPL 2021 will begin with Samson having doubters to prove wrong once more.