Although India haven’t won an ICC tournament since 2013, they would head into the 2021 T20 World Cup, which will be held in the UAE and Oman in October-November, as one of the strongest sides. In fact, India are one of the few teams in international cricket which can field two sides simultaneously. While the main team is currently in England for the Test series, a limited-overs side, led by Shikhar Dhawan, is battling it out in Sri Lanka. And the success of the youngsters in Lanka is actually increasing the headache of selectors as they are spoilt for choice when it comes to picking players for the T20 World Cup.
Dhawan, Shaw can’t be ignored
If you look at the current Indian setup, Rohit Sharma is definitely going to open in the T20 World Cup, barring injury and fitness issues. But the big question is – who should his opening partner be? Indian captain Virat Kohli has stated after succeeding in one game during the T20I series against England that he will continue to open the batting and did so in the IPL as well earlier this year. However, KL Rahul just had a few bad games at the top of the order. Before that, he was Rohit’s designated opening partner in T20Is. It would be a tough choice between Kohli and Rahul as Rohit’s opening partner.
It doesn’t end there though. Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw have also put their names in contention. Dhawan has been brilliant in the last two seasons of the IPL at the top of the order for Delhi Capitals. He has improved his strike rate tremendously, which was one of his problems in earlier years in the format. In the victory in the first ODI against Sri Lanka, Dhawan top-scored with an 80-plus score. Even though in his mid-30s, the left-hander’s chances of making the T20 World Cup cannot be ruled out.
As for Shaw, he has been in scintillating form of late. The young opener scored a record 800-plus runs in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and followed it up with some sizzling knocks for Delhi Capitals in IPL 2021. Even in the series in Sri Lanka, he has played a couple of stroke-filled innings’. A match-winner win the willow on his day, can the selectors afford to leave Shaw out even with the plethora of options available?
Yadav, Kishan also in the reckoning
If we glance at India’s middle-order, Shreyas Iyer should come in back at No. 4 when fit. He has deservedly made the spot his own with some impressive knocks. Of course, if he doesn’t recover in time for the T20 World Cup, India can explore other options. But that chances seem slim as of now since Iyer is on the path to recovery. All-rounder Hardik Pandya and attacking wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant seem irreplaceable at the moment in the T20 format.
Having said that, Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan have had such fantastic starts to their limited-overs careers, it will be difficult not to consider them for middle-order slots in the T20 World Cup. While Yadav dispatched the first ball he faced in T20 cricket for six, Kishan did the same on his ODI debut. Both players are wonderful stroke-makers and are at the top of their game when it comes to confidence. Their bold approach is something that can help India’s cause in the T20 World Cup.
Back in March, India legend VVS Laxman went to the extent of stating that Yadav and Kishan deserve to be part of India’s T20 World Cup squad. It won’t be an easy task for the selectors when they sit to pick the team for the mega event. Can they do the fine balancing job?