Over the last few months, Team India has tried out numerous youngsters in white-ball cricket since their seniors have been given multiple breaks keeping the busy schedule and upcoming ICC T20 World Cup in mind. One such young gun who has made a genuine impact in the few matches he has played is Punjab’s left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh. The bowler came into prominence following his impressive performances for Punjab Kings (PBKS) in the Indian Premier League (IPL). He has claimed 28 wickets in 26 matches over the last two seasons for the franchise, including a five-wicket haul.
At the time of writing this story, the 23-year-old had played only three T20Is for India, in which he had claimed five wickets at an average of 13.60, a superb economy rate of 5.91, and an impressive strike rate of 13.8. These are still very early days in his international career, but the youngster is beginning to give indications that he could be the next big thing in Indian cricket as far as pace bowling is concerned. And the reasons for the same go beyond just the numbers he has produced in his IPL and short India career.
Versatility is his forte
Arshdeep is among the rare T20 bowlers who are equally good at the start and at the death. We saw numerous illustrations of the same during the last two seasons of the IPL. He provided further evidence of his versatile skills in his debut T20I game against England in Southampton. He gave Jason Roy a harrowing time, starting his career with a maiden as the batter failed to deal with his deliveries swinging both ways. He returned at the end to pick up two wickets and finish with impressive figures of 2 for 18 on debut.
There was quite a bit of furor as Arshdeep was not picked for the remaining two games. He was part of the squad for only the first match of the series, but critics reckoned that he could easily have been added to the team. Their assessment of the situation was vindicated when the left-arm seamer once again made a significant impact in the first T20I of the series against West Indies in Tarouba in Trinidad. This time, Arshdeep claimed two wickets and gave away only 24 runs in his four overs.
During his tussle with West Indies opener Kyle Mayers, he also indicated his maturity and astute character. The latter took on the bowler and smacked him for several boundaries. However, Arshdeep got his own back with a brilliant slower short ball, which caught the batter off-guard. All he managed was to lob the ball straight up in the air. Arshdeep’s “death stare” to Mayers after dismissing him grabbed attention. It was almost as if the bowler was saying, “I am the boss.”
Arshdeep for T20 World Cup?
What the young Punjab pacer has done with his impressive start to his Test career is put his name in contention for the T20 World Cup. But, of course, he stands only an outside chance of making the squad. While Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are certainties, if fit Harshal Patel, Deepak Chahar, and Mohammed Siraj are above him in the pecking order. Arshdeep also faces stiff competition from Prasidh Krishna in this department. However, the one factor in favor of the Punjab cricketer is that he is the only quality left-arm seam option available for India among the current crop.
If we look at teams across the globe, most top sides have a left-arm seamer in their ranks. New Zealand have Trent Boult, Pakistan have Shaheen Shah Afridi, and Australia have the canny Mitchell Starc. Of course, Arshdeep lags behind the others with respect to experience, but he definitely has that ability to make an impact. It will be a big risk, without a doubt. The big question is, does the Indian think tank feel it is worth the punt?