The T20 World Cup is scheduled for 2020, and teams will be hoping to work out settled combinations as early as possible. India will get several chances to streamline their team as India are to play two other T20I series - against Sri Lanka and New Zealand - and the Asia Cup before the World Cup.
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There are certain loopholes that India needs to address to have a better chance of success in the upcoming marquee event. Let’s have a look at the possible XI, the players that will make it to the squad and the faces who could force their way in.
Likely playing XI
Opening in the limited overs format has not been a concern for India for a long time. The pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have four 100+ opening stands in T20Is, most by any opening pair in the history of the format. The pair have amassed a total of 1743 runs together in 52 innings with the average of 33.51. Rohit Sharma is currently the joint-highest run scorer in T20Is with 2633 runs to his name. He tops the chart when it comes to the number of sixes having cleared the boundary 120 times.
Virat Kohli is an automatic selection with a total of 2663 runs to his name at a massive average of 52.66, which is also the highest in the format. The Indian captain will also be their most crucial player in the competition. Virat's record in Australia is no less than outstanding. He averages 84 across 5 innings scoring 252 runs at a strike rate of 149. In those 5 innings, he has three 50+ scores. His ability to construct an inning no matter the format allowing others to bat around him is unmatchable.
Rishabh Pant has been playing at number 4 since the World Cup but the wicket-keeper batsman has largely failed to impress. Rishabh has enjoyed success in IPL for Delhi Capitals but has struggled to implement the same fearless approach in the international stage.
He has a below-par average of 20.45 in 24 innings. The position requires Pant to bat adapting to the situation of the game which he has failed to demonstrate. The team management have showed abundance of faith in him and he is expected to continue getting chances to convert his talent into performance. Rishabh is expected to be in the XI and keep wickets for India in the World Cup.
Shreyas Iyer will be expected to bat at 5. Shreyas has had limited opportunities to showcase his talent at the international stage but he has been impressive since his return in August. His versatility will appeal to the team management as he has the ability to bat up the order.
On the back of impressive performances in the ODI series in West Indies, Iyer was the leading scorer for India in the 3 match T20I series against Bangladesh in November. His ability to judge the length of the ball early gives him time to pick his shot. Leading Delhi in IPL, Iyer has showcased the ability to change gears according to the demand of the situation. In the games leading to the World Cup , Iyer will be looking to further cement his position in the XI.
In Hardik Pandya, India have a seam bowling all-rounder they have been craving for a while now. Pandya has the potential to change the game in an instant with both bat and the ball. India will be hoping to not just have him fit but firing as well. Hardik has demonstrated the ability to clear the boundary with ease having a strike rate of close to 150 in just 25 innings while he also has a knack of picking up crucial wickets.
Ravindra Jadeja provides further balance to the team. Not a big spinner of the ball but with his immaculate line and length, Jadeja doesn't give much room to the batsmen which makes it tough to pick him apart. He is among the best fielders around the world. Having a career economy rate of 7, Jadeja puts pressure on the batsmen by not allowing them to score freely.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar's strength lies in swinging the new ball. His control of the new ball and ability to move it both ways makes him very crucial in the power-play overs. He can be equally effective in the death overs with quite a few variations up his sleeves. Kumar has an economy rate of less than 7 in the format.
Deepak Chahar has taken massive steps towards the T20 World Cup with his recent performances. 17 wickets in just 10 games is an incredible return for a player who has been on the fringes of the national side. He has the ability to swing the ball late. He can strike early in the power-play and stop the opposition from gaining momentum early in the inning. Being the highest wicket-taker with 8 wickets in the series against Bangladesh, the CSK bowler earned himself the man of the series award. Chahar is expected to be in the final XI.
Yuzvendra Chahal is among the leading spinners in the game. Being genuine wicket-taking options, wrist spinners are the need of the hour in international cricket having more mystery about them than the finger spinners. Chahal has picked 52 wickets in 36 T20I matches at an impressive strike rate of 16.21. He has two 4 wicket hauls and one 5 wicket haul. Chahal seems to be the preferred option for India at the moment but it will be interesting to see if the management sticks with the bowler who spins the ball the same direction as Jadeja or go with other options.
Jasprit Bumrah is one of the most lethal bowlers in world cricket at the moment. Bumrah is among the top 10 bowlers in both Tests and ODI rankings. It's always difficult for the batsmen to pick the ball coming from that angle and the ability to bring the ball back into the right-hander often makes him unplayable. Currently recovering from an injury, Bumrah has picked 51 wickets in T20I in 42 matches with an economy rate of only 6.72. India will be hoping he is at the peak of his form during the marquee event.
Other Squad Members
KL Rahul is pushing for a spot in the starting XI. His performances have been up and down in other formats but T20 has been kind to him. He has a average of 43.77 in T20Is and a strike rate of 146. His performance in the recently concluded series against West Indies in the absence of Shikhar is only making a stronger case for him. Naturally aggressive batsman, Rahul has the ability to convert starts into big innings. He has 8 half centuries and 2 centuries in the shortest format of the game. Rahul is ranked 9th in T20I rankings.
IPL 2020 will be crucial for Manish Pandey. Although he has not been able to cement his place in the XI, Pandey will be hoping he can force his way into the team with a good IPL. Manish has an impressive average of 39 in T20Is.
Washington Sundar rushes through his overs and maintains a tight line and length which makes it difficult to score against him. His ability to control the scoring rate with the new ball makes him handy for his side. He is not a genuine wicket taker but has a low career economy rate of 6.65. Sundar can also chip in with the bat lower down the order.
Mohammed Shami seems a revamped bowler. Everything he touches turns to gold. Shami has always been lethal but he has been on the expensive side in the shortest format of the game. He is another player who would be hoping to have a good IPL. Shami seems to have developed a lethal yorker to add to his skills. In the IPL last season, Shami picked 19 wickets in 14 matches at an impressive strike rate of 17.
Sanju Samson will be hoping to get some game time leading up to the World Cup. The classy Kerala batsman has always been impressive in the IPL but opportunities at the highest level have been hard to come by. Samson is expected to be kept on standby.
In the absence of Hardik, Shivam Dube has made the most of his chances. Making his debut in the recent series against Bangladesh, the RCB all-rounder has had decent outings with both bat and bowl. Given the opportunity to bat up the order in the second T20I against West Indies, Shivam played a decent knock of 54 in just 30 balls consisting of 4 sixes demonstrating his ability to clear the boundary with ease while his 3 wicket spell in a pressure situation in the series decider against Bangladesh showed that he could be useful with the ball as well.
Kuldeep Yadav is very much in contention to make the final squad. Kuldeep has had an short but impressive international career. In the 19 matches the chinaman bowler has played, he has picked up a total of 37 wickets at an impressive strike rate of just less than 12 and an economy rate of less than 7 with one 4 wicket haul and one 5 wicket haul to show for his performances. Kuldeep has occasionally found it tough on flat tracks as the batsmen found it easy to line him up because of his lack of pace.
Khaleel Ahmed, being a left arm seam blower will provide much variety to the squad. Although unlikely, Khaleel could have an outside chance of making it to the World Cup. He has a knack of picking up crucial wickets but often finds himself on the expensive side. Career economy rate of just below 9 is something he has to improve. Virat has talked very highly of Khaleel in the past.