Team India’s new head coach Rahul Dravid has admitted that workload management will be an extremely important aspect of his job as the team’s guiding light. While he did not directly admit that India will have different teams for different formats, he did concede that there are individuals who play only in certain formats.
Dravid stressed that players’ mental health needs to be looked at, and the long-term future of cricketers cannot be neglected. In the wake of the Indian coach’s statement on workload management, we look at players who are likely to be a part of the Indian team in the T20 format consistently.
Top-order: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Prithvi Shaw
Captain and vice-captain Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul will be the preferred choice to open whenever they are available. They are arguably the best all-format opening pair in world cricket at the moment. When they are on rest, India can give opportunities to Ruturaj Gaikwad and Prithvi Shaw. Both have been in stellar form in the IPL, and Shaw has some international experience, although his career at the top level has been a mixed bag. Devdutt Padikkal is waiting in the wings as well. India are blessed in the top-order department.
Middle-order: Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer
Apart from Virat Kohli, who should make a comeback soon, Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan have made very good starts to their T20 career, exceptional in the case of SKY. Although 31, Yadav can still go on and play for a few more years. Kishan is young and exuberant talent, and India can look to fit him in the middle-order. Wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant is definitely in the scheme of things and should be a long-term prospect for India. Shreyas Iyer has shown in his short career that he can do the match-winning act if given a defined role. India need to find more middle-order options, though.
All-rounders: Ravindra Jadeja, Venkatesh Iyer, Hardik Pandya, Shardul Thakur
This is one area India are poor with. Apart from Ravindra Jadeja, they are struggling to find a decent all-rounder. Hardik Pandya played as an all-rounder in the T20 World Cup 2021 but hardly bowled. It was a mystery of sorts and a needless distraction amid a mega event. Not surprisingly, Pandya was dropped for the New Zealand series. Having said that, his replacement Venkatesh Iyer did not bowl in the first two matches of the series against New Zealand. India utilized their five main bowlers in both the games, but they must test out the sixth bowling option. They are going to need it sooner rather than later.
Shardul Thakur should also be in the scheme of things as an all-rounder in the T20 format. The 30-year-old was brilliant with both and ball during the Test series in England, and he followed it up with some fantastic performances in the second half of IPL 2021. He did not have a lot to do in the T20 World Cup, but he can win games for India, especially with the ball.
Bowlers: Jasprit Bumrah, Deepak Chahar, Harshal Patel, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel
India have decent options in both the pace bowling and spin department. They should have Jasprit Bumrah back in the mix soon to lead the pace bowling department. Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar could fall out of favor. Mohammed Siraj has impacted his short career, while Harshal Patel has also made an impressive debut. Deepak Chahar is another medium-pacer who has proved that he has match-winning skills.
Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, and Yuzvendra Chahal seem to be the main spin bowling options in the T20 department. Varun Chakravarthy looked out of place in the T20 World Cup, while Rahul Chahar still seems raw. Ashwin has rediscovered his mojo while Chahal looks on the upswing again. Axar has been doing a steady job in the opportunities he has been provided with.