The upcoming six-match white-ball series is a perfect opportunity for some Indian players to not just be in the reckoning for the future, but also stake claim for a place in the upcoming T20 World Cup. With India fielding a second-string side led by Shikhar Dhawan in Sri Lanka, it gives an opportunity to assess India’s depth in every department, which in turn gives a chance to look back how some of them could fit into the scheme of things when the first-choice team is also around.
However, for a few cricketers who are more or less guaranteed a place in the T20 World Cup, this series is nothing short of a chance to cement their place, but some of them will find it very difficult to break into the full-fledged Indian side given how strong they are at the moment. Here’s a look at a few of them:
The Karnataka batsman’s poor strike rate was the talk of the town in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021. But that gradually improved as he was promoted up to No. 3 and also opened the innings once. However, Pandey may not be able to break into the Indian side as the top three slots are more or less taken.
Anything lower than No. 3, Pandey will be a wasted resource in the team and has fared poorly in any position lower than that. He has never batted above four in T20Is or ODIs for India and it is highly unlikely that India would tinker with that now.
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However, it is a great chance for him to do well in Sri Lanka and give Team India an option if not anything else.
It’s a pity that a talented cricketer like Samson has not cemented his place in the Indian side yet. He has been given ample opportunities at the top, especially in the T20Is in New Zealand when Rohit Sharma was injured. However since his return to the Indian side in 2020 – five years after he made his debut – he has registered scores of 6, 8, 2, 23, 15 and 10, which are clearly not good enough to retain your place in the Indian side.
Samson made an excellent start to the IPL 2021 as well, starting off with a century on captaincy debut and scored 40-plus in the last three matches before the tournament was postponed. With Ishan Kishan also in the side against Sri Lanka, it will be interesting to see who among them gets preference.
The left-arm wristspinner may have lost his place in the limited-overs side, but he has a great opportunity to be in the reckoning once again. With the likes of Krunal Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja offering something with the bat as well, Kuldeep has gone down the pecking order. Along with Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep played a huge part in completing a rout in the ODI series in Sri Lanka in 2017 and it could very well be the same country in which he gets back into form and potentially, knocks all the doors down.
Between the end of the 2017 Champions Trophy and the start of the 2019 World Cup, Kuldeep was the leading wicket-taker in ODIs (87) and joint-highest with Chahal in T20Is (35). But it has gone downhill for him since. He has played just 15 limited-overs matches since and has managed just 16 scalps overall.
To add to his woes, he is no longer a guaranteed starter with KKR as well.
The southpaw’s maiden call-up to the Indian side is nothing short of a terrific achievement, given he has been one of the most consistent performers in the IPL for KKR over the years. Nobody has scored more runs (897 at 28.84) for KKR since IPL 2019 and he is done so at an impressive strike rate of 137.4.
Since IPL 2019, Rana has batted everywhere in the top four, scoring 786 runs at a 130-plus strike rate, but given that India have a strong top four, it is going to be tough for Rana to make it to the XI of the full-fledged team any time soon. However, there’s no reason why he cannot excel in the chances given in the Sri Lanka series and perhaps act as an option in the future.
The all-rounder fetched a huge sum in the IPL 2021 auction when CSK procured him for a whopping INR 9.25 crore from a base price of INR 20 lakh. However, he did not get a single game in the tournament, but could still play a part in the UAE, where his hard-hitting abilities could come in handy in Sharjah and his off-spin could be useful in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The Karnataka all-rounder has often shown his exploits in the Karnataka Premier League (KPL), wherein one match he scored 134 and took eight wickets. However, will he be able to take it to the next level?
The 32-year-old may not be a viable option in the future and it will not be surprising to see the Sri Lanka series being his first and only call-up to the Indian side.
Read preview one, two and three here: