India do not have any confirmed T20Is before the T20 World Cup later this year, making the suspension of IPL 2021 a tricky one for their T20 World Cup selection.
Using IPL form to pick players is now a trickier task. With the 14th edition of the IPL suspended, some of India’s unanswered questions on certain spots remain in tact while a few have been sorted despite just half the IPL season being played. Here’s a breezy look at a few dilemmas facing them.
Who opens with Rohit Sharma?
Rohit Sharma’s T20 credentials might not be soaring, but it’s unlikely that his place in the Indian T20I XI is in that much danger. However, his partner is undecided yet with contenders ranging from Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul to the mercurial Ishan Kishan and the left-field choice, Virat Kohli. Rohit and Kohli opened in India’s last T20I against England and looked good at the top, but with Kohli’s form patchy for Royal Challengers Bangalore at the top, India might look to go back to Dhawan or Rahul. Dhawan’s T20 transformation could force Rahul out despite him being chosen over the former in recent times. There’s also the enticing option of picking the dynamic Prithvi Shaw to complement Rohit’s slower starts.
Who are India’s spinners?
It used to be Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav with Washington Sundar and Ravindra Jadeja as holding spinners. Jadeja’s all-round improvement means he waltz into the XI, but the same cannot be said of any of the other spinners. Since 2020 in T20Is, Chahal and Kuldeep have leaked runs at more than nine runs per over. Rahul Chahar also went at over nine an over in his two T20Is so far and the usually economical Sundar has conceded at more than eight runs per over. One option outside the incumbent ones who could jump up the pecking order is Varun Chakravarthy. While any of them might still make it to the extended squad, India do not seem to know who their frontline spinner is in their T20I squad.
Experience or flamboyance
India have an abundance of top-order batsmen in their current squad and quite a few more are making rapid strides in the IPL. In the past, India have been reluctant to move away from their set ways, but ringing in a few changes in the England home series, they beat the visitors 3-2 and it could prompt them to back more of the new guys in the side. The likes of Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav would likely be a part of the extended squad, with their selection in the final XI still up for debate. Shreyas Iyer’s likely return by then also means some of these middle-order options will be tussling with him for a spot in the final XI.
How to complement Jasprit Bumrah?
Bumrah is India’s premier weapon in this format and it makes sense to build the bowling attack around him. While the presence of Trent Boult and Nathan Coulter-Nile eases his load in the Mumbai Indians setup, India’s support seamers haven’t been as reliable in recent times and as such Bumrah’s effectiveness is negated because teams can afford to play him out. This makes the support cast quite important and India haven’t quite nailed down their best picks in this department yet. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Shardul Thakur offer experience while Navdeep Saini, T Natarajan and Prasidh Krishna bring freshness and variations. Will the old order change?
Will recent performances be rewarded?
If IPL 2021 is anything to go by, India have a slew of new headaches in their hands. Uncapped players showed immense potential, especially in the bowling department. Harshal Patel and Avesh Khan topped the wickets chart while Devdutt Padikkal shone through with the bat. At least one of them is a strong option to plug a hole India have in their current setup. A few others like Prithvi Shaw, Krunal Pandya, Siraj and Chakravarthy also put their hand up with impactful performances. With extended squads possibly allowed for the T20 World Cup, will India look for more x-factor players with recent form behind them than stable, known options? This single question could dictate which way India’s T20 World Cup goes.
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