India on the hunt for a new finisher in T20Is?
With Dinesh Karthik not named in the T20I series against New Zealand, it raises a few questions over his future with the Indian team. Karthik had a spectacular Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 with the Royal Challengers Bangaldesh (RCB) donning the finishing role with utmost ease and was therefore picked in for the T20 World Cup in Australia as well. While chief selector Chetan Sharma put it down to DK’s workload management, could the marquee event in Australia be his final hurrah? Or are the selectors just exercising caution given that he walked off with a niggle in the match against South Africa?
Karthik scored 251 runs at a strike-rate of 207.4 in the last five overs in IPL 2022 and hit a boundary every 3.2 deliveries. However, in the ongoing World Cup, he has scored just seven runs off 17 deliveries.
If not DK, who? Based on the current squad selection, Deepak Hooda seems to be the likely option, but it may not prove to be a good move. Since IPL 2020, Hooda has hit at a strike-rate of 150.4 at the death. His strike-rate is the worst among Indian players after R Ashwin (146.4) and Riyan Parag (146), among players with at least 150 runs in the final five overs. Looks like India have to keep digging.
Return of Kul-Cha
Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel are among players from the T20 World Cup who have not made the cut. However, Kuldeep Yadav finds his place in the side along with Yuzvendra Chahal. The duo has tormented the opposition in the past and by the looks of it, they will reunite and look to tear the opposition apart once again.
Since the end of Champions Trophy 2017 final, a time when India turned their focus from finger spinners to wrist spinners, Kuldeep (118) and Chahal (112) have been the leading wicket-takers in ODIs. With next year’s World Cup set to be played in India, it could a move that was made keeping that in mind.
At the same time, Ravi Bishnoi, the young leg-spinner could be hard done by the decision to leave him out. He played just one game in the Asia Cup, in which he was quite impressive and before that he made his ODI debut against South Africa in which he got smashed for 69 runs from his eight overs.
Why no Shaw, Gaikwad?
Prithvi Shaw has been tormenting the opposition regardless of the format in the recent past. He scored 285 runs at a strike-rate in excess of 190 in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy recently and also a century in the Duleep Trophy semi-final, but yet he does not find a place in the white-ball squads. Not to forget, he also managed 283 runs in IPL 2022 at a healthy strike-rate of 153. Sharma has assured, Shaw will get a chance at some point and the selectors are in constant touch with him.
Ruturaj Gaikwad might also be feeling excluded. He managed to get just one game in the series against South Africa. In the series against New Zealand A at home, he scored a fifty and a century in the unofficial Tests and also got off to starts in the 50-over matches. Gaikwad has been on the fringes for some time now and is yet to get an extended run in the Indian team. He now seems to have dropped further down in the pecking order.
What else does Sarfaraz have to do?
Mumbai batter Sarfaraz Khan was expected to be named for the Test series against Bangladesh, but it didn't happen. This, and the exclusion of Hanuma Vihari, could only mean India are going to back Shreyas Iyer at No. 5, with Shubman Gill perhaps in the fray for that position.
"There were a lot of discussions about Hanuma. Our middle order at this time is packed, if you talk about the eleven with Shreyas Iyer and Virat Kohli [in the middle order], and Shubman Gill obviously is in the scheme of things. Hanuma is also in the scheme of things but sometimes you miss out, ” Sharma said.
Coming back to Safraraz, no Indian batter has scored more runs in first-class cricket since 2020 than the Mumbai batter. His 2,330 runs have come at an incredible average of 129.44, that includes five fifties and nine centuries from 24 innings.
Among those who have scored 1,000 or more first-class runs across the globe in this period, no player has a better average than Sarfaraz.
What happens to the fringe players?
Kuldeep Sen and Yash Dayal are the two new faces introduced in the squad for the first time. While Dayal, the left-arm seamer, played a pivotal role in in Gujarat Titans claiming their maiden IPL title this year with 11 wickets, Sen too impressed with eight scalps from seven matches for Rajasthan Royals.
While India have gone in with Dayal for the ODIs against Bangladesh, Mukesh Kumar, who was picked for the South Africa series, gets dropped without being given a chance. Rahul Tripathi has been with the Indian team for some time now, while Rajat Patidar came in for the last series against South Africa. With the big guns set to return for the Bangladesh ODIs, chances could once again elude the newcomers, but India can continue to flex their depth.
India maybe missing the all-round services of Ravindra Jadeja in the T20 World Cup, but his return for the Bangladesh leg is a huge boost. Having undergone a knee surgery, Jadeja was expected to return as soon as he was fit and here is. Jadeja had transformed himself into a sought-after allrounder across formats over the last 2-3 years and his return could mean Axar Patel’s chances could be limited.