India’s run-in to the 2024 T20 World Cup is now underway and their five-match series against Australia is a good test for the pacers hoping to make the attack for the tournament.
With several of their first-string pacers, including Jasprit Bumrah, rested after the ODI World Cup, India’s new guns have the opportunity to push their cases to be central to the side’s plans over the next six months. Here’s a look at how each of them are shaping up.
Arshdeep burst onto the international scene last year in Bumrah’s absence as the air to his dominance. He finished the 2022 T20 World Cup as India’s leading wicket-taker, sealing his ascension to India’s first-string T20I attack. Following up the World Cup, he had a decent IPL for Punjab Kings and put in good performances against New Zealand and the West Indies on the international stage. His economy rate of 8.59 per over is a touch high, but considering when he tends to bowl in an innings it is more than decent. That he has played 39 T20Is in the 17 months since his India debut suggests India rate him highly.
Shami last played a T20I match in India’s loss to England in the semi-final of the 2022 T20 World Cup. Nevertheless, he was the leading wicket-taker in the 2023 edition of the IPL and his effectiveness in the 2023 World Cup should also be considered significant. It’s hard to see how Shami coming on as first change after Bumrah has had his opening burst won’t be India’s best option for next year’s T20 World Cup. That said, Shami has only played 23 T20Is across this decade-long international career; he is perhaps not as adaptable across phases as is ideal for a T20 seamer.
Krishna was Glenn Maxwell’s chief victim in his blistering 104 off 48 balls in Guwahati. He conceded 68 runs and took no wickets in his four overs, and with Australia needing 22 from the final over, Krishna was hit for five boundaries by Maxwell to seal the match. One performance against a player in the form of his life shouldn’t be used to write Krishna off – in the previous match against Australia he took three wickets. However, in the five T20Is he’s played so far he’s conceded his runs at 11 an over, and recently hasn’t shown the same fire he did in the T20I series against Ireland earlier in the year.
Having generated significant hype from his performances in the 2021 and 2022 IPLs, Avesh has had a quieter time in international colours. In and out of the T20I side to cope with injured front line pacers, subtle tweaks to his technique and approach through working with Morne Morkel at Lucknow Super Giants have improved his domestic performances this year. Having fallen off the T20 radar towards the end of last year, he played one game in the Asian Games and was recalled for the third T20I against Australia in Guwahati, in which returned figures of 1-37 off his dour overs.
Mukesh struggled as part of India’s new-look T20I squad which played the West Indies earlier this year. He didn’t bowl four overs in a single match of the series and took three wickets in five innings. While he’s been trusted more against Australia, bowling all of his four overs in both matches he’d played, wickets have still been infrequent, albeit on tricky surfaces for pacers.
Siraj is difficult to figure out in T20I cricket. He often leaks run, but his knack of surprising batters and hitting the pitch hard can see him bowl unplayable spells to rip through a side. That was evident in his four-wicket-haul against New Zealand last year. But 11 wickets in eight matches with four of them coming in one game is short of a consistent record, and it will be a case of risk vs reward to decide whether he fits in India’s T20 World Cup first XI plans.
Added to India’s squad for the final two T20Is against Australia, Chahar hasn’t played a T20I since October 2022 having suffered multiple injury setbacks over the last 12 months. If he can string together a decent run of fitness, he stands a more than decent chance of making the squad for the T20 World Cup.
The fastest bowler India have at their disposal. There has been a clear willingness to integrate him into the national set-up ever since he burst on the scene in the IPL with Sunrisers Hyderabad but he is yet to marry up his raw attributes with consistency.
Harshal has a reputation as somewhat of a death bowling specialist but will that be enough to force his way into India’s T20 World Cup plans with the likes of Bumrah and Arshdeep ahead of him in the queue? It’s unlikely.
As Bumrah’s dominance has increased, Bhuvneshwar has quietly slipped down the India-pacer pecking order. Not in the first XI of any of India’s national sides currently, at 33 it feels like his international pedigree is fading. He had a difficult T20 World Cup in 2022, taking four wickets in six matches. There’s not much suggestion he’ll be brought in from the cold any time soon.
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