ROHIT SANKAR | 9 NOVEMBER, 2019
What’s India’s Ideal T20 Team?
India’s ODI game has definitely seeped into their T20I thinking
The outcome of a surprising loss to Bangladesh at Delhi in the first T20I was the rather outdated thinking India have in the shortest format of the game. From Shikhar Dhawan’s match-losing innings to lack of death bowling options and power hitters, a can of worms opened up from the game for India even as they aim to intensify preparations for the T20 World Cup next year in Australia.
In this scenario, it’s only ideal that we explore what India’s ideal T20I team would be, bearing in mind the potential they have and the standards expected in T20s these days.
Contrasting style openers
While Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan remain a potent ODI pair at the top of the order, the fact that neither of them really starts off with a bang means that India are wasting their powerplay. With T20s evolving, it is imperative that one of the openers tees off from the start. Building acceleration, the infamous Hitman mantra, is ideal in ODIs but not so much in T20Is.
Even then, such is Rohit’s ability to match up that he is indispensable. Same is, however, not true of Dhawan, who will make way for the flair and flamboyance of KL Rahul, a rather understated T20 opener. Though India have spoilt his natural elegance by giving him multiple roles, a 2018 IPL style Rahul would be a huge boost for this Indian T20I side.
OPENERS: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul
Less anchors, more power from middle-order
India’s ODI game has definitely seeped into their T20I thinking and the evidence is the presence of too many anchors in the middle-order, a classic case of overvaluing wickets. While Virat Kohli is better suited to opening the innings in this format, with Rohit and Rahul, there is little room for him there. So Kohli remains at no.3 with positions 4-6 being flexible based on match situations. Should another anchor be needed in case of an early collapse, Shubman Gill or Shreyas Iyer can walk in.
If the top three have started off well, the Pandya brothers – incredible power players and better at executing the big hits than Rishabh Pant – needs to be promoted above the wicket-keeper. Pant is ideal in the death overs where he knows his role pretty well but yet again, one would hope he is trained to execute his big hits better.
MIDDLE ORDER: Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill/ Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya
Enough bowling options, and ample spinners
Spinners are invaluable in this format irrespective of conditions. While the quicker bowlers are believed to be more impactful with the new ball and death, spinners have slowly started squeezing into these roles as well with Washington Sundar as a new ball bowler being a prime example for India.
Sundar should retain his place in the team although on bigger grounds, India can think of another wrist spinner in Rahul Chahar or Kuldeep Yadav. Krunal Pandya’s presence ensures India have additional spin options. With none of the other top five having part-time bowling skills, the elder Pandya will add a much needed cushion to the top five bowlers.
SPINNERS: Yuzvendra Chahal, Washington Sundar/ Rahul Chahar, Krunal Pandya
Death and new bowling
India are lucky that they have a near impermeable death bowler in Jasprit Bumrah, easily the best in the business in world cricket today. Bumrah is such a gem in these final few overs that India should look to maximize his value in these overs. To do that, he needs to be free from new ball duties at least, unless of course the assigned bowlers err. In Bhuvneshwar Kumar or Deepak Chahar, India have ideal swing bowlers at the top.
On less conducive wickets, Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Navdeep Saini is another potent option. Of course, Sundar will also add overs inside the powerplay with the new ball to help India’s case of keeping Bumrah more for the middle and death overs. In Saini and Bhuvneshwar, India also have good death bowlers to partner Bumrah but only one of them will have room in the team. When one of the strike bowlers have an off day, Hardik can probably take up more workload with the ball.
Pacers: Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini/ Bhuvneshwar Kumar/ Deepak Chahar
FINAL TEAM: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, Rahul Chahar, Deepak Chahar, Shreyas Iyer