Team India has been on a roll in the T20 format in recent times.

Team India has been on a roll in the T20 format in recent times. Following the setbacks in the first two matches of the T20 World Cup in the UAE last year, they have lifted themselves up brilliantly. Under the leadership of Rohit Sharma, they handed New Zealand a 3-0 thrashing at home. More recently, they got the better of a strong West Indies outfit at home and also defeated Sri Lanka in the T20I series. Although the hosts have had the home advantage, they deserve credit for the impressive run. 

Considering the tight schedule as well as the bio-bubble and fatigue factor, the selectors and team management have done well to give key players rest turn by turn. It is credible that the Indians have managed to clinch three T20I series despite all the big names not available for all the matches. Now, it is important that Team India keep rotating their players as they build their squad for the T20 World Cup in Australia later in the year. They need to try out a few additional players so that India have a decent pool ready heading into the ICC T20 World Cup 2022.

An alternate XI should be groomed

India’s core team for the T20 World Cup seems more or less in place. Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, and Jasprit Bumrah are certainties in the squad. However, there is no guarantee that all of them will be available for the ICC event. India are facing a serious injury crisis, with some of the prominent names out of action for now. In fact, even from the list given above, Suryakumar and Rahul are currently recuperating from injury. Also, Jadeja and, before him, skipper Rohit returned after recovering from their respective injuries. 

There are a few other players like Deepak Chahar, Washington Sundar, and Axar Patel as well on the injury list. This is not a great trend, although the T20 World Cup is still a few months away. India thus cannot head into the mega event thinking all of their key players will be available. They need to plan for the worst and in a manner that an alternate XI can be fielded in case the original choices are unavailable. For that too happen, players need to be given enough chances to prove themselves without the entire exercise looking like a merry-go-round.

The audition list

The audition list, if we may call it so, for a spot in India’s T20 World Cup squad is quite long, which is a good thing. But, the selectors must ensure that they pick the right players for the job. Starting with the opening position, India have two alternatives. They can go with Rohit-Rahul or push Rahul into the middle-order and get the aggressive Ishan Kishan to open with the captain. The in-form Ruturaj Gaikwad is another contender who could be a dark horse if he gets his opportunities and grabs them. 

The No.3 spot has been reserved for Kohli for years, but it would be difficult to ignore Shreyas Iyer’s brilliant show against Sri Lanka. He certainly has presented a case for an alternate No.3. If Rahul doesn’t bat in the middle, Suryakumar could make a case for the No.4 spot. Although Rishabh Pant has been batting at that position, he makes a better option lower down. As of now, Venkatesh Iyer seems to have the upper hand in the 6th bowler race, with Hardik Pandya not in the picture. We will get a clearer idea after the IPL, but if Venkatesh continues to impress, both Iyers could be on the flight to Australia.

Among bowlers, Bumrah seems to be the only certainty so far. Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahar is close to sealing his spot. Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel have all done well, but at least one of them could end up missing out. India also have to consider the likes of Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami, plus Avesh Khan is around the scene as well. A problem of plenty for selectors. But the question is, can they pluck out at least 15 game-changers for the T20 World Cup?

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