Last Wednesday, the BCCI (The Board of Control for Cricket in India) announced their 15-man squad and the standby players for the T20I world Cup scheduled in the United Arab Emirates and Oman from 17 October to 14 November 2021. The seventh edition’s World Cup squad has much exciting inclusion and exclusion, which rightfully created a buzz in the cricketing fraternity. So let’s look at what exactly the team has to offer for this time’s World Cup.
Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma (VC), KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Rahul Chahar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Varun Chakravarthy, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohd Shami.
Standby players: Shreyas Iyer, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar.
With the regular captain Virat Kohli leading the pack this time, it seems that like other teams participating in the tournament, the team has focused more on empowering the spin department but with the exclusion of their prime white ball spinners (Yuzvendra Chahal & Kuldeep Yadav). The case of Kuldeep was more or less shut even before the official announcement. Still, the surprising name missing in the squad was definitely Yuzvendra Chahal, considering that he was being decorated as the prime spinner of India’s white-ball team over the years.
A solid batting lineup
A growing problem which the Indian selectors in recent years are facing (which other teams will surely die for to have) has been the availability of multiple options for different roles. But this power on numerous fronts has harmed the equations of the team and was seen this year as well in the form of dropping the experienced Shikhar Dhawan, who was having the form of his life in the first half of 2021 IPL, displaying a staggering average of 54.29, missing out on his selection. The abysmal reason for his exclusion given by the selectors only did the work of applying the salt to his wounds.
But all said and done, the squad still has an excellent lineup headed by Captain Kohli and the white ball beasts KL and Rohit Sharma, making them one of the most fearsome batting units. All eyes will surely be on this trip, considering the reputation they have built up over the years. With the long due addition of Surya Kumar Yadav, after his exceptional debut in the international format against England and the exploits in the Mumbai Indians jersey (the announcement was just a ceremonial courtesy), the top order seems like a dream come true.
Also, with the addition of Ishan Kishan, the squad has no lack of firepower in their batting arsenal. Rishabh Pant, as usual, might be the prime wicket-keeper, and it seems that his white-ball deep in recent times has been overlooked, credit to the maturity he showed in the red ball games of 2021. Improvement in the keeping technique might also have been one more factor contributing to his addition to the squad.
Pandya or Jadeja?
A recent dip in the form of Hardik Pandya may have been one of the concerns in the Indian camp. Still, any cricket pundit knows that avoiding him can only attract unnecessary and uncalled damage to opponents, as is the repertoire of Hardik Pandya. Another world-class all-rounder which India are fortunate to have in their squad is Ravindra Jadeja. His international numbers might suggest Pandya as the primary all-rounder preference. Still, like bowling and a fielding option in the UAE conditions, we might get to witness Jadeja’s flying catches.
Return of Ashwin and an all-IPL spin unit
The most talked-about part from the Indian team announcement this time was indeed the spinners selection. The inclusion of IPL stars Rahul Chahar and Varun Chakravarthy instead of the predicted Kul-cha pair came out as a shock to everyone. Still, their IPL performance recently has their selection backing. Many experts will agree that at least the addition of Chahal in these conditions would have been more fruitful for the team (the man has grabbed 63 wickets at an impressive strike rate of 18.24 in T20I). Whether this decision will backfire or not, only time will tell.
Also, the delightful return of Ravichandran Ashwin was one more surprising addition to the squad, which will serve as the experience element for the other young ones in the squad. Axar Patel’s usefulness on turning pitches cannot be given a miss; hence, the selection stands justified in his case.
The Dependable Pacers
With only three pacers in the 15-man squad, the team’s intention of playing out spinners as the leading force for the tournament is pretty straightforward. The reputation that Jaspreet Bumrah has garnered in recent times will be enough for the opponents not to take him lightly, as evident by his exploits in every condition. With the support of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shami, the trio might see through the team towards the final stages of the tournament even though Shami has comparatively less experience in the T20s, his immense IPL and ODI experience more than enough covers this part. The only concern will be to avoid the injuries, as the reserve options the Indian team has lacks the international experience and have not been tested much as it is needed for the World cup.
India has put out a highly potent squad for the World Cup with some surprising additions and subtractions. Of course, every individual will have a differing opinion regarding the selection and whether they are right and wrong. But this team still looks strong in every department barring the recent batting collapses.
The floating rumours of Kohli stepping down from the white ball captaincy will only add flavour to the contest ahead. And the question which arises every tournament, after Kohli took the reign, will Kohli finally be able to etch his name on an international trophy this time? Or the fans wait agony will continue? All the answers lie with the ‘time’, my friend!