India won the Asia Cup match versus Pakistan on Sunday, 28 August 2023. However, despite having a wealth of batters at its disposal, the winning team struggled to reach a modest target. That brings us to the question, what is the ideal playing eleven that India should field at the T20 World Cup 2023?
India have had several opening pairs since the last T20 World Cup in October-November 2021. They have finally settled on Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul. From what we have seen in the last couple of years, Sharma is no longer the fearsome T20 batter he used to be. However, as the team skipper, he cannot be dropped. This is a tragedy for a team management seeking to put its best 11 men on the field. In my view, an in-form Ishan Kishan is a better opening option. That said, Sharma brings great value as captain. Health reasons have kept KL Rahul out of cricket for a while. So, we cannot read too much into his lack of runs. He is bound to recover his form. When he does, he will reclaim the top batting spot as India’s best t20 opener.
Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav occupied the important number 3 and 4 positions versus Pakistan. India sent Jadeja up the order to negate the left arm spin of Shadab. Rishabh Pant’s absence allowed the team management to do this. Kohli has his naysayers who are growing in number every day. Like Sharma, the former India skipper brings invaluable experience to the table, without which a World Cup title is unimaginable.
The Finisher’s Role
The finisher’s role is an area that impacts India’s team selection the most. An important decision India must make is whether to play both Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Kartik. If they choose Pant over Kartik, they must decide who will play as the finisher. Will Ravindra Jadeja play? In the absence of both Jadeja and Kartik, Hardik Pandya must, willy-nilly, take the responsibility of scoring the big hits in the death overs.
On hard Australian wickets, India would have to include more fast bowlers than spinners in their playing eleven. Like Bumrah, Md Shami is expected to return from injury and reclaim his place in the team. However, having a spinner or two can be useful. especially in the overs following the powerplay. A good spin bowler can help restrict the scoring rate. Yuzvendra Chahal is a certainty in the playing eleven. Can India afford the luxury of including another tweaker such as Jadeja? I will revisit this question later in this article.
In my view, the following are the best eleven players that India can field in the T20 World Cup 2023:
- Rohit Sharma
- KL Rahul
- Virat Kohli
- Rishabh Pant
- Suryakumar Yadav
- Hardik Pandya
- Ravindra Jadeja
- Bhuvneshwar Kumar
- Jasprit Bumrah
- Md Shami
- Yuzvendra Chahal
The key man who makes this a world champion team is Hardik Pandya. Why do I say so? Because, only a world class allrounder like Pandya gives India the luxury of playing a second spinner in the form of Jadeja. It also allows India to drop Kartik and let an in-form Pant display his wares on Australian wickets that suit his game. Take away Pandya, and India will struggle to reach the semi-final stage of the competition.