The India Squad for T20 World Cup 2024, to be hosted in Australia in October-November, has been announced. The team comprises of the following 15 players:
· Rohit Sharma (c)
· KL Rahul (vc)
· Virat Kohli
· Suryakumar Yadav
· Deepak Hooda
· Rishabh Patel (wk)
· Dinesh Karthik (wk)
· Hardik Pandya
· R Ashwin
· Yuzvendra Chahal
· Axar Patel
· Jasprit Bumrah
· Bhuvneshwar Kumar
· Harshal Patel
· Arshdeep Singh
Are there any surprises? Md Shami’s exclusion is glaring, though the pacer has been included in the reserves, along with Shreyas, Bishnoi, and Chahar. Jadeja was left out owing to the knee injury he suffered during the Asia Cup tournament. The left-handed all-rounder has been replaced by Axar Patel. Other players who have missed the bus include Ishan Kishan, Varun Chakravarthy and Shardul Thakur.
Ashwin’s inclusion is also surprising. In the last few seasons, the veteran off spinner’s T20 performance has been waning. Instead, I would have preferred a young player such as Ravi Bishnoi who impressed during the Asia Cup. The absence of quality off spinners has clearly worked in Ashwin’s favour.
Without Bumrah, the Indian Attack is Toothless
With a fully-fit Bumrah, India has one of the best T20 attacks. The third seamer is Bhuvneshwar with his penchant for taking wickets in the powerplay overs. Bumrah’s absence during the Asia Cup hurt India badly. While Bhuvneshwar made an impact during the powerplay overs, he was less than impressive in the death overs.
Bhuvneshwar’s expensive bowling in the death cost India dearly, against both Pakistan and Sri Lanka. For instance, in the Super 4 match against India, Pakistan chased a target of 182. At the end of 18 overs, the Pakistan scorecard read 156/4. They needed 26 more runs from the last 2 overs. Bhuvneshwar bowled the 19th over and conceded 19, leaving the batting team just 7 to get from the last over.
Likewise, Sri Lanka who were chasing a target of 174 reached 153/4 in 18 overs. They needed 21 to win from the last two. Bowling the 19th over, Bhuvneshwar conceded 14 runs. Sri Lanka were left needing only 7 runs in the last over.
Against Afghanistan, Rohit Sharma wisely decided to bowl out Bhuvneshwar while the going was good. The new ball operator took five wickets while conceding only four runs.
Without his Bowling, Hardik has Limited Value
Hardik bowled decently against Pakistan in India’s first Asia Cup match versus their traditional rivals on 28 August. He took 3/25 to help restrict Pakistan. However, his bowling in the Super 4 games against both Pakistan (1/44) and Sri Lanka (0/35) was less than impressive. The team management must ensure that Hardik is sufficiently fit to be able to bowl during the World Cup.
Dinesh Karthik Must Replace Pant in the Eleven
India’s top four — Rahul, Sharma, Kohli and Yadav — gave enough evidence of their class in the Asia Cup. However, Pant appeared out of sorts. He had scores of 14, 17 and 20 in the three games he played. Replacing Pant with Karthik in the eleven would allow India to push Hardik up the order. Axar and Karthik could slot in at number 6 and 7.
Clearly, the selectors have been swayed by the performances of players in the recently concluded Asia Cup. Bookmakers’ favourites at the start of the competition, Rohit Sharma’s men faced defeat at the hands of Pakistan as well as Sri Lanka. The team’s disappointing performance will compel the Indian think tank to re-evaluate their strategy for T20 World Cup 2024.
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