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New Zealand v India 2022

The Rohit conundrum and the Pant puzzle: Five big calls India’s new selector must make

Move on from Kohli and Rohit in T20Is and a lot more - Big calls India's new selector must make
by Shashwat Kumar 5 minute read

The BCCI have recently invited applications for a new panel of selectors. Shashwat Kumar looks at the major calls the new panel will have to take and how it could impact India moving forward.

What is the long-term T20I plan on Rohit and Kohli? Does Rahul still warrant a place?

India’s semi-final exit at the T20 World Cup threw up several questions, many of them around the insipid batting approach. With two years left for the next edition, India will have to decide whom to stick with and whom to discard. No call, though, will be as big as the one revolving around their famed top three.

In essence, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma are very similar T20 batters. All three prefer to take time at the start before teeing off towards the end. This has proved counterproductive on multiple occasions, particularly if they get out during a sluggish opening phase or after consuming deliveries.


India’s annihilation at the hands of England in the semi-final made it clear that India could not afford three batters cut out of the same cloth. In fact, even a solitary batter of this ilk feels too many in this format, especially with so many carefree stroke-makers hovering on the fringes of the India team.

Kohli remains valuable in other formats, and his workload needs to be managed. Rohit is not getting younger, and batting form has not been his greatest friend in recent times. Rahul has not quite lived up to his billing either. Do India move on and look for something more dynamic?

Probably yes. If the next set of selectors take that call is another matter altogether, though.

If Hardik Pandya is the captain for the 2024 T20 World Cup, why not appoint him now?

In the past few months, Pandya seems to have leapfrogged Rahul in the race for India’s next T20I captain. Pandya led IPL debutants Gujarat Titans to the trophy, and India have not lost any of the five T20Is under him. As a player, Pandya’s importance cannot be overstated enough. His skillset guarantees him a spot in the XI. It makes sense for India to groom him as a leader.

Rohit, on the other hand, is unlikely to lead India at the next T20 World Cup, due to his declining form and his age. Neither Rahul nor Rishabh Pant is a sure-shot starter.

Pandya, thus, is India’s best bet as captain, and needs adequate matches to shape the team to his liking. That must start now.

Finding the right mix amidst India’s embarrassment of ODI batting riches

Shikhar Dhawan has been a behemoth of ODI cricket. His strike rate, however, has come down to under 75 in 2022. Over the same period of time, Shubman Gill averages over 57 and strikes at over 100. Rohit is expected to open and lead India into the 50-over World Cup next year, while Kohli will bat at three – in other words, there will be space for only one of Gill or Dhawan at the top of the order.

The other debate is around the make-up of India’s middle order. In the middle order, Rahul averages 51.76 and strikes at at 104. This year, however, he has batted in the middle order only once out of seven matches, against West Indies at Ahmedabad, where he scored a 48-ball 49.

Rahul also missed the ODI series in England, where Rishabh Pant grabbed his chance and produced a sensational hundred to seal a series win. Suryakumar Yadav, too, is a contender for a middle-order spot, considering his T20I accomplishments. Shreyas Iyer has ridiculously good numbers, and and Sanju Samson has also been in good touch lately.

If fit, Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja are the likeliest to occupy the No.6 and 7 spots, leaving room for only two of Pant, Rahul, Samson, Shreyas and Suryakumar. If India zero in on the right blend, they can be very dangerous; if they do not, it might leave a sour taste again.

Figuring out Pant’s suitability to T20I cricket

Let us get straight to the point. When on song, Pant is as destructive as any white-ball batter on the planet. Those days, however, have been infrequent in an India shirt. With every passing game, it feels that he might not have the tools to create an impact in the middle order, and that his best position could be as an opener.

India have tried that out on a handful of occasions. While there has been the odd glimpse of brilliance, Pant has largely flattered to deceive. But that is the thing with Pant – the more you back him, the greater are his chances of repaying that faith.

The question now, though, is how long can India keep giving him opportunities, especially when the likes of Ishan Kishan and Samson are knocking at the door? Sooner or later, India might have to take a definitive call on whether Pant fits into their plans, and if he does, where exactly he features.

And that will be up to whoever dons the hat of selector next.

Who will be India’s bowlers at the next ODI World Cup?

The next ODI World Cup is less than a year away, and India would want to atone for the disappointment at this year’s T20 World Cup. Their batting seems well-stocked with at least two batters competing for every spot. The bowling, too, follows a similar trend, although injuries threaten to test that notion to the hilt.

If fit, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami walk into the XI, along with the all-rounders, Jadeja and Pandya. India, thus, need to zero in on who their two other bowlers will be, with one of them being a genuine spinner and the other being a pacer.

For the spinner’s role, India will have to choose between Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. They have paid the price for not including a wrist-spinner in recent ICC white-ball tournaments, and will want to rectify it. That said, it would be interesting to see whom they prefer, considering Chahal has not been trusted at global events and Kuldeep has only returned to the fold recently. They may also pick both – for the World Cup will be played in India.

The competition for the fast bowler’s spot is more intense. Mohammed Siraj has done well whenever called upon. Prasidh Krishna seems to take wickets every time. Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur add batting depth, and someone of Umran Malik’s pace will always keep opposition batters on their toes. Arshdeep Singh can also be a viable alternative if India feel the need for a left-arm pacer.

Whichever path India take, they must ensure that they give the bowler enough games to get used to his role, and gain as much experience under pressure as possible.

A problem of plenty is never bad. But it is still a problem if not optimised properly.

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