Talking points for the India T20 World cup squad: Options in bowling, sameness to batting

Posted by Xchange Tickets on August 2nd, 2022

IPL 2022 is nearing its conclusion; therefore attention in India will soon shift to the T20 World Cup that will be held in Australia in October-November. Here is a look at how India is preparing to correct the mistakes of last year's campaign ahead of their five-match series against South Africa, which is expected to serve as their warm-up. The squad for this series was revealed yesterday.

Squad for SA series: KL Rahul (c), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (VC, wk), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Hardik Pandya, Venkatesh Iyer, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik

A familiar template of top-order batting

At the 2017 T20 World Cup, India's top four players were Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, and Suryakumar Yadav. There was an opportunity to explore a different style of play when three of the aforementioned four were injured or on rest before South Africa's visit, but it appears that India does not want to make any changes to this aspect of their game. To Know more about T20 World Cup Tickets click here

Gaikwad maintains his position in the team despite a lacklustre IPL season following his Orange Cap-winning exploits in the previous year. His 368 runs were scored at a strike rate of 126.46. The team management and selectors have decided to stick with another anchor-style hitter rather than players like Rahul Tripathi (413 runs at 158.23 SR) and Sanju Samson (374 runs at 147.24 SR), who sacrifice consistency for deliberate risk-taking.

Oddly enough, Samson was the opener for India's final T20I match against Sri Lanka in February. Captain Rohit even praised Samson's match-winning skills and backfoot play, which would be helpful in Australia, where this year's World Cup will be played. Even if Samson and Tripathi play low-percentage cricket, there aren't many like them, so their approach needs more support.

Lefties, multi-skilled cricketers and finishers

The top three players from India last year, in addition to being stylistically similar, also showed a clear dexterity disadvantage due to their right-handedness when playing against Shaheen Afridi, Imad Wasim, and Trent Boult, and Mitchell Santner. Ishan Kishan was chosen despite a mediocre IPL season in which his vulnerability to balls outside the stumps was exploited because it gives a matchup peg and adheres to Rahul Dravid's professed belief inconsistent selection.

Despite his dismal second season with KKR, Venkatesh Iyer presents a top option despite being employed by India as a finisher. Venkatesh offers a bowling outlet, much like Kishan who serves as both a keeper and a player. India has the returning Hardik Pandya to fill the exact job he was unable to fill in the UAE last year, but because of his injury history, backups are needed, and Venkatesh is the best option.

India needs a dedicated finisher and pace-hitter because Venkatesh is relatively inexperienced at the international level and Hardik and Rishabh Pant bat higher up for their IPL teams. Veteran Dinesh Karthik has filled this position admirably for Royal Challengers Bangalore. It will be interesting to see how India balances its alternatives and creates a lower middle class.

Ashwin, Chahal and the spin conundrum

In hindsight, one of India's major tactical errors was leaving Yuzvendra Chahal out for the World Cup last year in favour of faster (Rahul Chahar) and less-known (CV Varun) spinners. Non-negotiable inclusion is the legspinner, who presently holds the Purple Cap in the IPL. R Ashwin, his spin partner at the Rajasthan Royals, hasn't succeeded, though. Following Washington Sundar's injury, Ashwin missed four years of T20Is but participated in the World Cup the previous year.

He subsequently played a key role in two victories over New Zealand immediately following the World Cup, destroying the idea of facing off against right-handed batsmen with his changes in pace and deft use of angles. After taking a break for the third game, he was unable to compete against West Indies and Sri Lanka due to an injury.

Although Ashwin may well be in the team's plans and no explanation for his non-selection has been provided, Deepak Hooda's inclusion would indicate that India does not require a specialist offspinner but rather a matchup option who bats in the top-six. But, likely, India's starting XI in Australia will only have two spinners. Would the two be Jadeja and Chahal? If so, India will be without a spinner who turns the left-ball hander away. This may be the reason they kept using Ravi Bishnoi for the South Africa series, whose signature delivery is the googly.

Pace-bowling depth

In the absence of any injury issues, Jasprit Bumrah, who was rested for the South Africa series, is a lock to start in the World Cup. India is seeking a variety of speed bowlers to complement him. Even if he isn't usually among the wickets, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has the experience, can swing the ball in the PowerPlay, and can function at the death. To hold Bumrah till the kill, India needs a middle-overs enforcer. Umran Malik, who regularly hits 150 kph, is considered a realistic candidate with Avesh Khan, assuming he can graduate from the IPL finishing school.

The other addition to the team, Arshdeep Singh, provides both a left-arm angle that India lacked the previous year and exceptional death bowling control, as seen by his economy of 7.31 in this round of the IPL 2022. Since Shardul Thakur (dropped) and Deepak Chahar (hurt) are both out of the lineup, Harshal Patel, the Purple Cap winner from last year, is the only fast bowler with batting experience.

Rahul, Pant and Iyer to play all five T20Is

Both the T20I and Test squads include Rahul (captain), Pant (vice-captain), and Iyer, and BCCI officials have confirmed that the three players have been chosen for all five Twenty20 matches against South Africa, which will be contested between June 9 and 19. According to the initial schedule, the Test team would depart for England on June 16 with Rahul, Pant, and Iyer following suit later. The coaching staff for both programmes will either be split up, or the VVS Laxman-led NCA staff would be hired for one series.

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