India’s T20I team is beginning to take a recognisable shape, but given the sheer amount of talent at their disposal, India’s fringe players could come into the picture at some stage and make a remarkable difference, writes Rohit Sankar.
The extended 22-man squad allows India to have multiple options in the team, with the possibility of giving some of them a run at some point in the tournament based on opposition and conditions.
Here’s a look at five such fringe players who might turn out to be game-changers for them at the tournament.
Check out Wisden writers’ 22-man Indian T20 World Cup squad here.
A mystery spinner in your team is never a bad idea, and if India are looking to play an extra spinner on top of Ravindra Jadeja and Yuzvendra Chahal or Rahul Chahar. Chakravarthy offers tons of potential: his fitness might be a question mark, but he also poses quite a few questions at batsmen with his unremitting variations.
Chakravarthy could, in particular, be useful against teams that struggle against spin in the middle overs, such as South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.
A powerplay beast, Shaw is just the kind of batsman India miss at the top of the order, yet there are very few ways to squeeze him into the first-choice XI. However, against teams that do not have great powerplay options, Shaw could be a bolter to replace Dhawan or Rahul and step in alongside Rohit Sharma to take the bowling by the horns.
Shaw has shown he can do that with remarkable ease, and it augurs well for India that he can be plugged into the extended squad as an ‘X-factor’ option.
While he was picked and dropped in the recent past, Samson showed that his nerveless batting is a treat to watch in T20 cricket, while also being unfazed despite the pressures of IPL captaincy. Samson’s mature thinking, while maintaining his undying intent, makes him a definite pick in the 22-man squad.
He’s someone who can step in for Suryakumar Yadav or Shreyas Iyer in the middle-order at some point in the tournament. Against spin heavy teams, in particular, Samson could pose a genuine threat in that middle-order, complementing Rishabh Pant’s style perfectly.
Another bolter if he were to even be named in the 22-man squad, Bishnoi did his chances no harm with a short, yet impactful few games in the cut-short IPL season. A beast against left-handers with his googly, Bishnoi will be handy if India decide to play Jadeja and another leg-spinner, both of whom turn the ball into the left-handers.
Washington Sundar is an option to turn the ball left to right, but Bishnoi, while being a leggie himself, bowls a high percentage of googlies and is a more attacking option than Sundar to lefties. If India can compromise on batting depth, Bishnoi might be a decent surprise option to have around.
India have fast bowling options in plenty to complement Jasprit Bumrah, but none of them are remarkably ahead of the pack to start in the XI. This multiplies Avesh Khan‘s chances of being picked not just in the extended squad, but possibly also as an additional death bowling option in the XI.
The Delhi Capitals quick had a stunning IPL season where he showed his composure in the death overs against some of the most renowned names in the format, and while it might be too early to suggest him as a first-choice pick in the XI, Avesh’s selection could make Bumrah even more dangerous in the death with no avenue to attack.
Subscribe to the Wisden Cricket YouTube channel for post-match awards, player interviews, analysis and much more.