If Pandya is going to bat at No. 7, India might as well play Shardul Thakur.

India put up an abysmal display to go down to Pakistan by 10 wickets in the T20 World Cup encounter in Dubai. The loss for India ended their dominance over their arch-rivals in the World Cup as this was the first time ever that the Indians had lost to Pakistan in a World Cup match – 50-over for T20. Batting first after losing the toss, India got off to a horror start losing their in-form openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul cheaply. Although Virat Kohli (57) and Rishabh Pant (39) engineered a fight back, India could only post 151 for 7 on the board. Pakistan chased down the total without breaking a sweat as both their openers smashed handsome half-centuries. India next take on New Zealand in Dubai on October 25. Here are three changes India could make for the key clash.

  1. Shardul Thakur for Hardik Pandya
Also, on current form, he is perhaps as good as Pandya with the bat.

Virat Kohli has come out in vocal support of Hardik Pandya. He was thus retained in the playing XI even though he has been unable to bowl for a while now. But India are throwing their balance completely off the track by trying to accommodate Pandya as a pure batter. The move worked during the white-ball series in Australia but has been a flop since. Against Pakistan, he batted at No. 7 and neither looked fluent nor had much time to make an impact. The situation around Pandya being carried along despite not being able to bowl is now getting bizarre.

If Pandya is going to bat at No. 7, India might as well play Shardul Thakur. He is in fine form, his confidence is at an all-time high. Significantly, he can offer India a bowling option while batting at the position. Also, on current form, he is perhaps as good as Pandya with the bat. India need to utilize his services before it is too late. The wait for Pandya to bowl cannot go on like this in endless fashion.

2. Ishan Kishan for Suryakumar Yadav

Like Yadav, Kishan too was having a torrid IPL campaign. But he hit back with a stupendous knock in MI’s last league game.

Suryakumar Yadav has worked very hard to earn his place in the Indian team. He is 31 and has toiled hard in domestic cricket and the IPL to earn his much-deserved India call up. Yadav also made an impressive debut against England earlier this year. But, apart from the innings against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the IPL this year, he hasn’t looked in great touch. Yet, he was preferred over Ishan Kishan in playing XI against Pakistan. In a sense, it was understandable as Yadav is the more experienced of the two as cricketers.

India though must bring in Ishan Kishan for the next game. Like Yadav, Kishan too was having a torrid IPL campaign. But he hit back with a stupendous knock in MI’s last league game. And then, in the first warm-up against England, he played a scintillating innings. Kishan will be high on confidence and rhythm at present. While Rahul and Rohit can open the innings, Kishan can replace Yadav at number four or could even bat at three, with Kohli moving down.

3. Ravichandran Ashwin for Varun Chakravarthy

India must bring in Ravichandran Ashwin to strengthen their spin department against the Kiwis.

Varun Chakravarthy was expected to be India’s trump card against Pakistan. But he could not make any impact. Yes, one game is not enough to judge a bowler but from whatever was on display, it wasn’t very impressive. Chakravarthy does deserve another chance to prove himself. But the World Cup is not the stage to do that.

India’s match against New Zealand will be extremely crucial. Apart from Pakistan and the Kiwis, India will face Afghanistan and the qualifiers in the group. India as well as the other teams will be expected to beat the qualifying nations in the Super 12. Hence, India must bring in Ravichandran Ashwin to strengthen their spin department against the Kiwis. Ashwin has been picked because India believe he can deliver. He needs to get a chance to prove his worth.

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