India have a spate of experienced and uncapped top-order batsmen at their disposal ahead of the T20 World Cup 2021.
The hosts will have a problem of too many ahead of the tournament and no matter which way they go, they will inevitably leave behind a few very talented players after selecting their squad. While some experienced players are certain to make it to the 22-man group, a number of uncapped batsmen are also knocking on the door.
All of these batsmen could easily slot into No.1-3 in the batting order, and some of them could even bat beyond.
Let’s take a look at the top-order options India have going into the T20 World Cup at home later this year.
The been-there-done-that squad
KL Rahul: Confirmed as one of India’s first-choice openers, KL Rahul will be key for them in the T20 World Cup. Not only has he produced top-class performances in the IPL over the last few years, but is also India’s second-highest T20I run-scorer since 2019.
Rohit Sharma: The second half of Virat Kohli’s preferred opening combination, Rohit Sharma remains one of India’s biggest threats. The only player to have a more or less permanent spot at the top of the order in all three formats, Rohit will be vital to India’s chances in the T20 World Cup.
Shikhar Dhawan: Thanks to his resurgence in the format, Shikhar Dhawan has now posed a serious question before the team management. Through conscious improvement in his strike rate, the left-hander is now a new and improved T20 player. If Rahul or Rohit fail to capitalise on their chances, he could easily take their place.
Virat Kohli: The India skipper might be best-suited to No.3 in ODIs, but it might be time for him to make a permanent move to the opening slots in T20s. The shortest format demands your best batsman to face the most balls, and Kohli remains India’s biggest asset with the bat. His extraordinary numbers in the last two T20 World Cups only prove why it might be essential for him to don the opener’s role.
The second-chance duo
Prithvi Shaw: While the youngster started his career with a promising Test hundred on his international debut, he has fallen out of favour with the Indian side of late. His technical struggles in IPL 2019 and in the subsequent Test series against Australia were well documented. However, the right-hander has made a roaring comeback with a record-breaking campaign in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, followed by an impressive run in IPL 2021. He is knocking on the door for a T20 international debut.
Sanju Samson: While Sanju Samson remains a relatively inconsistent player compared to India’s other top-order options, his recent exploits in the IPL make a strong case for him. With the rest of the lineup functioning on reliability, Samson’s unpredictability might even give India the X-factor they need in their T20 lineup. When on song, there aren’t too many batsmen who can hit the ball as effortlessly as Samson. Furthermore, he deserves a longer rope with the Indian side.
Mayank Agarwal: Another player who has dropped out of the Test XI, Mayank Agarwal might have the chance to make his international comeback through the T20I door. The Karnataka batsman has been impressive in the shortest format, batting at a career strike rate of 135.41 in the IPL. He also impressed on his IPL captaincy debut earlier this year, slamming an unbeaten 99* off just 58 balls.
Devdutt Padikkal: The 20-year-old had a difficult start to IPL 2021, but soon turned his season around. He registered the second-fastest century scored by an Indian in the tournament. In addition to that, he won the Emerging Player of the Year award in the 2020 edition while also finishing with more runs than any other uncapped player had in their debut season. With India sending a second-string squad to Sri Lanka soon, it could be the perfect time to slowly integrate Padikkal into the senior squad.
Shubman Gill: Gill might’ve struggled in the IPL this season, but his record for India is impressive. He starred in two big Test series wins for India this year, against Australia in Australia and against England at home. While his IPL strike rate has progressively reduced over the last few years, the talented batsman remains a solid bet for the top of the order.
Ishan Kishan: Both these players are likely to make it to the T20 World Cup squad, but might find it difficult to break into the XI. Kishan, who has been impressive for Mumbai Indians, is likely to be behind Rishabh Pant in the wicketkeeper-batsman pecking order. However, he will be ready to be called upon whenever needed. In just two T20I innings, Kishan already has a fifty to his name.
Suryakumar Yadav: Another Mumbai Indians recruit, Suryakumar Yadav has taken to international cricket like duck to water. The 30-year-old had to wait his turn, but made the most out of the chance he got. He did not get a chance to bat on his debut and was dropped in the following game, but then made a comeback with a sensation 89 in his first T20I knock. He is likely to remain in the Indian setup.
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