Captain Virat Kohli believes swing bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar will prove a handful and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will also boost India’s hopes at the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup.
The World Cup is just a few months away, so now every series and every game becomes crucial in figuring out the right combination for the marquee tournament.
But the Indian team selection over the last couple of years has been extremely confusing. They have sent mixed signals not only to the players but also to the fans, who have no clue what the final squad might be.
The team selection for the final three games against the Windies proves the case in point. Mohammad Shami, who was brought back from his slumber in ODI format, was discarded after a couple of bad games. Shami was India’s best ODI bowler till the 2015 World Cup but finds himself out of favour in the current set-up.
Umesh Yadav is another bowler who is still uncertain of his place despite having played the most games among pacers after Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah.
Shardul Thakur, Siddharth Kaul, Deepak Chahar and Khaleel Ahmed have all been tried but none has received a consistent run with the team. Since January 2017, other than the two main pacers, none of the bowlers except Umesh Yadav have played more than five games. This means that India still hasn’t locked down on their two back-up pacers for England. In case of injury to either Kumar or Bumrah, India doesn’t have two pace bowlers as replacements in the ODI team.
The issue does not stop with the bowling alone – the batting is in a bigger mess. While it is commendable that Virat Kohli has acknowledged Ambati Rayudu will be India’s No.4, there is still the No.5 spot that needs to be locked down.
India picked Dinesh Karthik for that role, but he suddenly can’t find a place in the XI. Even if we put that down to experimentation, there needs to be some consistency in selection. If India expect to play either Kedar Jadhav or Dinesh Karthik at No.5, they need to be part of the team.
There are others like Manish Pandey and KL Rahul, who have no clue as to what their roles are. Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma are the only three sure starters in the batting line-up right now. The selectors and the team management need to make up their mind and should identify 15 to 20 players they want to have a look at and try to rotate them in the upcoming 15 to 16 games.
That is the only way they can get some consistency, and if that means they must rest few regulars, so be it. Over the last couple of years lots of players have been picked and quickly discarded after a couple of failures.
The spin department is also something that hasn’t been explored much. Is Ravindra Jadeja the only spinner India is planning to have a look at? Are there any plans of getting in someone like Krunal Pandya or even Ravichandran Ashwin?
The Deodhar Trophy is currently in progress in India and the best talents in our country are participating. I hope that over the next three games India manage to give enough opportunities to players who have been picked in the squad.
Young bowlers like Khaleel Ahmed need to be given confidence and should not be getting dropped in every other game. Manish Pandey and KL Rahul need to be spoken to and should be told what the team management expects of them and what they think their role will be for the World Cup.
The time is running out, and if India wants to have a good crack at the title next year, they need to act fast. The upcoming three games offer team management the perfect opportunity to work towards that goal.