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India usher into new era as Dhawan gets the axe

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Last updated on 28 Dec 2022 | 10:22 AM
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India usher into new era as Dhawan gets the axe

Hardik Pandya’s elevation in both T20Is and ODIs comes a big sign of promise

India had several goals, ahead of the 2022 year but as it stands, they have failed more times than they have succeeded. That in return, has now put them in a phase of transition, that has officially seen them make multiple changes in the squad, including the drop of Shikhar Dhawan, the elevation of Hardik Pandya as the captaincy understudy amidst other things. One thing that since then has been reported is that Rishabh Pant has been sent to the NCA for more check on his knee, which is the major reason for him not being in any of the white-ball squads. 

What was interesting, what was shocking? Let’s deep dive straight into that.

Hardik winner, Rahul loser as India shift leadership

KL Rahul was the fortified vice-captain in 2022, including leading the Indian side in South Africa and Bangladesh, but now the axe has fallen. The management has decided to move away from the 30-year-old as a leadership candidate, in the direction of the more vibrant all-rounder Hardik Pandya.

Not only has Pandya been elevated as the skipper of the T20I side, in Rohit Sharma’s absence but also has been handed the vice-captain role in the 50-over format. Pandya has shown his leadership abilities in the Indian Premier League (IPL) with the Gujarat Titans, where he spearheaded the team to the title.

He later was excellent in India’s series win over New Zealand in the shortest format, showing great signs of leadership. With Rohit’s fitness being a big concern, are India looking at Hardik as potentially the captain across both white-ball formats? It could also be a real depiction of Rahul’s place in the white-ball setup, which now isn’t certain.

Also read: Team India’s 2022: A frustrating year filled with missed opportunities

End of the road for Shikhar Dhawan?

The road that India have taken plenty of times: the Shikhar Dhawan route is finally coming to an end. Dhawan has been a certified stalwart in Indian ODI scheme of things, and his presence in the past has been nothing short of assuring. However, over the last two years, even in the absence of several high-profile names, Dhawan’s form has been iffy.

In 22 matches across 2022 Dhawan averaged 34.40 — his worst ever in any calendar year (min 5 matches) — but more concerningly, he struck at just 74.21. Dhawan ended 2022 amassing 146 runs across his last 9 innings at an average of 16.22, his last five scores reading 3, 8, 7, 28, 3.

And given the rise of Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill, and the imminent breakthrough of Ruturaj Gaikwad, the Indian selectors have felt that they have seen enough of Dhawan, which certainly is a move in the right direction.

Shivam Mavi, Mukesh Kumar into the mix out of the blue

RKO, where did that come from? That was the reaction of several when they saw Shivam Mavi in the squad. Mavi isn’t an unknown commodity in Indian cricket. His stocks have perennially been gauged at a very high level but his performances at the higher level, including the IPL, has never been extremely convincing.

While Mavi was indeed influential for Uttar Pradesh across the domestic white-ball competitions this year – with 10 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy wickets and 14 Vijay Hazare Trophy wickets – , his selection is still a curious one, considering how there was once a pecking order, that had the likes of Shami.

On the other hand, just days after grabbing his maiden IPL contract, Bengal pacer Mukesh Kumar has been fast-tracked into the setup. He was earlier part of the Indian setup during the three-match ODI series against South Africa but in T20Is, no one saw it coming. Mukesh has played only 23 T20s, where he has an average of 23.68. But with no prior IPL experience, this move certainly has come out of the blue.

Does that mean, to hell with the pecking order or is it just another random selection in the larger scheme of chaos?

Suryakumar Yadav’s selection in ODIs – justified?

A closer look at India’s ODI squad would tell you that Sanju Samson is yet again ignored. Barring a failure or two, Samson has been one of the best batters in the 50-over format for the Men in Blue since his debut. In fact, the right-hander averages a high 66 and a stunning strike-rate of 104.76 in the longer white-ball format.

Not just that, he has also shown his game against some quality bowling attacks on particularly tough batting surfaces, including against West Indies and South Africa among others. At home, where he has played just the three ODIs, Samson has never been dismissed, including a strike-rate of 114.56.

On the other hand is a bonafide T20 legend in the form of Suryakumar Yadav. But has he done enough to cement a place over Samson in the ODI scheme of things? In ODIs, the right-handed batter averages 32 and has a strike-rate of 100.52, with scores of 6, 34*, 4, 8, 9, 13, 16 and 27 in his last eight innings.

Isn’t that a big enough sample size? Or are India banking on his T20I instincts to bubble up in ODIs?

The last of Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Like Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar too has been a revolutionary in India’s white-ball scheme of things. Even in 2022, the right-arm swing-bowler was India’s best pacer, with 37 wickets. How big is that? Well, no other bowler from the top ten nations have picked up more wickets than Bhuvneshwar.

But the progression of Arshdeep Singh in the right direction has now forced India to look into the new era. Rightly, with the left-arm pacer having picked up 33 wickets in just 21 appearances, showing his worth as a sure-shot starter for India. Not just that, Arshdeep has also shown bravery and skills at the death to counter the modern-attacking T20 batters, which is enough signs for India to move on from the 32-year-old Bhuvneshwar.

What happens to Ravi Bishnoi?

It is quite puzzling. Till the T20 World Cup, the 22-year-old Ravi Bishnoi was thrown left-right and centre as the next big spin thing from the country. But somehow, the experience of Ravichandran Ashwin coupled with the injury to Ravindra Jadeja has pushed the leg-spinner into the darkest shadows of Indian cricket. So much so, he isn’t even part of any of the white-ball setups.

Bishnoi should in fact, feel very hard done. Even in the limited opportunities, the leg-spinner showed great mettle, to pick up 16 wickets in the shortest format, averaging just 17. Across India’s both T20I legs against West Indies, it was Bishnoi who was most impressive. To see the leg-spinner not even in the scheme of things is quite the by-product of the chaotic selection.

India still are persistent with Yuzvendra Chahal as the only wrist spinner in the T20I format. Quite a shocker in 2022!

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