The team that wasn’t: picking an alternate Indian T20 World Cup squad

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safari
14 Oct 2021 | 07:51 AM
authorcricket.com staff

The team that wasn’t: picking an alternate Indian T20 World Cup squad

Taking into account IPL 2021 performances, Cricket.com has picked an alternate squad featuring Samson, Harshal and others

NOTE: This list also does not include anyone in the ‘standby’ list for the T20 World Cup 

Openers

Shikhar Dhawan

Dhawan might not have had the greatest of campaigns in the second half, but he still is, as things stand, the third highest run-getter in IPL 2021, with nearly 600 runs to his name. Since 2019, only KL Rahul has scored more runs than Dhawan in the IPL, thus taking into account the consistency and experience he brings, it is a no-brainer to have the 35-year-old as one of the first picks. Incidentally, he also is the skipper.

Ruturaj Gaikwad

With 407 runs to his name in the second half alone, Ruturaj Gaikwad has been head and shoulders above every other opener in the UAE leg, but more than his consistency, what sets him apart is his ability to accelerate after the powerplay. In IPL 2021, in overs 7-20, Gaikwad has struck at a rate of 165.4, the highest amongst openers who have faced more than 100 balls outside the field restrictions. Given he is also a supreme player of spin bowling, the 24-year-old walks into the squad. 

Mayank Agarwal

The most underrated T20 cricketer in India, Mayank Agarwal is the only opener in IPL 2021 to average over 40 and strike at over 140 (min 250 runs). His efforts constantly have been overshadowed by the brilliance of Rahul, but since last season, Agarwal has been sensational, having struck 865 runs at an average of 39.32 and SR of 147.9. The fact of him being a more complete T20 batsman sees Agarwal pip both Prithvi Shaw and Devdutt Padikkal to be the third opener in the squad. 

Middle-order

Sanju Samson

The Rajasthan Royals skipper endured his best ever IPL season and was unlucky to not have made the original cut for the senior team, thus he unsurprisingly walks into this alternate fifteen. Samson not only provides flexibility in terms of where he bats in the middle-order, he also can switch between being an anchor and an explosive x-factor. With nine IPL seasons under his belt, the 26-year-old also brings a ton of experience to the table.

Rahul Tripathi

Someone who has been integral to KKR’s turnaround in the second half, Rahul Tripathi has been a revelation in IPL 2021. Particularly in the UAE leg, the right-hander has proved to be one of the best middle-order batters. In overs 7-15 in the UAE leg, the 30-year-old has struck at 151.8; among those who have faced 50 or more balls in the phase, only Rahul and Agarwal have scored quicker. Tripathi is an intent-machine who is equally aggressive and adept against both pace and spin, and he will add an enormous amount of flexibility to this middle-order.

Ambati Rayudu

This is a selection that might seem bizarre, but IPL 2021 has been Rayudu’s most impactful season since the 2018 campaign where he struck 602 runs. And integral to the same has been the fearlessness and aggression with which he has batted. Rayudu’s SR of 151.17 this season is his best ever in a single IPL campaign, and the way he has owned the death overs has been a sight for sore eyes. In overs 16-20, the 36-year-old has struck at a rate of 200. Among those who have scored 75 or more runs in this phase, only Gaikwad and de Villiers have been quicker. Even in the twilight of his career, the veteran has shown that he can be a weapon if given the freedom and license, and with accumulators aplenty in this squad already, the 36-year-old is a useful commodity to have. Not least because he can also serve as a back-up wicket-keeper if needed.

All-rounders

Venkatesh Iyer

The breakout star of IPL 2021 walks into this squad, but the presence of a bunch of world-class openers sees him make the fifteen as an all-rounder. And batting in the middle-order is not something new to Iyer, who did the same multiple times across the 2020/21 domestic season. The 26-year-old can also double-up as an extra seamer who can not just be the sixth bowler, but can also bowl at the death.

Nitish Rana

Nitish Rana’s experience (and his ability to bowl off-spin) sees him make the squad, and the 27-year-old, to be fair, has had a very good second half of the season. He has averaged 36.4 in the middle-order after his underwhelming stint as an opener, but crucially his cameos have helped KKR win many a game. What makes him an invaluable asset is his ability to treat the spinners with disdain, notwithstanding the match-ups. 

Spinners

Yuzvendra Chahal

Bizarrely, for reasons unknown, Chahal did not make the main squad or the reserves, but his exclusion from the senior-side sees him be one of the first names in this alternate fifteen. The leggie endured one of his best ever IPL seasons, and was also the best spinner in the UAE leg of the competition. There is really no big need to justify his selection. 

Ravi Bishnoi

In just the second year of his professional career, Ravi Bishnoi has become one of the top spinners in the country, and so good was the 21-year-old in the UAE leg that he had many an expert advocating for him to be in the Indian senior squad. Across the IPL 2021 season, the leggie, known for his wicked googly, picked 12 wickets while conceding runs at an ER of 6.34. Despite being another leg-spinner, the uniqueness he possesses means that he can easily co-exist with Chahal. 

Harpreet Brar

Another youngster whose stocks have skyrocketed of late, Harpreet was the most economical spinner in the group stages of IPL 2021, even proving to be more parsimonious than the likes of Rashid, Narine and Chakravarthy. The left-arm spinner was equally effective across both the India and UAE legs, and his uncanny ability to land the ball on the same area for the entirety of his spell, at a far more trickier pace than someone like an Axar Patel, makes him such a tricky customer to come up against. His defensive ability will complement both Chahal and Bishnoi, and in addition to that, he also has the ability to tonk a few sixes with the bat. 

Pacers

Mohammed Siraj

Mohammed Siraj had an astonishingly good campaign for RCB, spearheading the attack, but unfortunately his efforts were overshadowed by Harshal Patel’s record-breaking season. IPL 2021 was Siraj’s joint-highest wicket-taking season, but the sensational ER of 6.78 ended up making the campaign his best ever. Siraj was Kohli’s go-to man in all three faces, and what was mighty impressive was how well he fared at the death, maintaining an ER of 7.5. He will spearhead this alternate side. 

Avesh Khan

Someone who had an even better season than Siraj, Avesh Khan also makes his way into this squad on the back of a stellar campaign that unfortunately did not end the way he would have wanted. The 24-year-old ended up as the second highest wicket-taker of IPL 2021 and out-performed his teammates Rabada and Nortje through the course of the season. Another versatile seamer who can bowl in all three phases with elan, Avesh is an automatic pick in this alternate fifteen. 

Arshdeep Singh

Another youngster who is getting better with every season, Arshdeep not just adds variety and versatility to this squad, but plenty of maturity. The left-armer has made a habit of stepping up when the stakes are high, and through his strength of mind alone he brings something very unique to the table. His PBKS teammate Mohammed Shami might have made the senior squad, but there is no question that Arshdeep too was a standout performer for the Kings. 

Harshal Patel

Never has there ever been a more odd-defying season in IPL history than Harshal Patel’s 2021. The whole world was certain that his ‘purple patch’ would end, but it never did. He kept picking wickets for fun, whenever he was brought into the attack, and eventually finished with 32 wickets to his name. More than two wickets per game on average. Currently the bowler with the most predictable yet lethal slower ball in the world, there is no way Harshal was not going to make this squad. And yes he can bat too, and that makes his presence all the more valuable. 

The alternate 15-member Indian squad for the T20 World Cup

Shikhar Dhawan ©, Sanju Samson (vc) (wk), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Mayank Agarwal, Rahul Tripathi, Ambati Rayudu, Nitish Rana, Venkatesh Iyer, Harpreet Brar, Mohammed Siraj, Avesh Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Harshal Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi

Standby players

Prithvi Shaw, Devdutt Padikkal, Shahrukh Khan, Shivam Mavi, Shahbaz Ahmed.

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Indian Premier League, 2021ICC World Twenty20, 2021IndiaShikhar DhawanSanju SamsonRuturaj GaikwadVenkatesh IyerAvesh KhanMohammed SirajNitish RanaRahul TripathiHarshal PatelMayank Agarwal

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