The Indian team for the ICC T20 World Cup 2022 has been announced. There were not too many major surprises in the 15-member squad. The Men in Blue will be led by Rohit Sharma, with KL Rahul as his deputy. The in-form duo of Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav retain their places, while Deepak Hooda finds a spot despite his recent failures. Left-arm spinning all-rounder Axar Patel has been picked in place of injured Ravindra Jadeja. Hardik Pandya will be the leading all-rounder. India has gone for four fast bowlers, with Arshdeep Singh pipping Avesh Khan for the fourth slot. In the spin department, the experience of Ravichandran Ashwin has been preferred over the vitality of Ravi Bishnoi. The Indian team was announced just days after their disappointing Asia Cup campaign, leaving India with more questions than answers.
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1) Should Virat Kohli Open the Innings?
In India’s last Asia Cup match against Afghanistan, Kohli opened the batting and hammered his maiden T20I ton, his first in international cricket since November 2019. Rahul also scored a half-century in the exact match. However, he has yet to regain the rhythm he showed before getting injured. The think tank would thus be forced into seriously thinking about whether Kohli should open in the T20 World Cup. Last year, Kohli opened the innings in one of the T20Is and the subsequent IPL. There were reports that he could open in the World Cup as well. Will it happen this year?
2) DK or Pant?
This is a big question mark and a cause of massive confusion in the Indian camp. Dinesh Karthik was picked as the designated finisher in the Indian team for the Asia Cup. Yet, he ended up facing only one delivery in the entire series. He bowled more deliveries (6) than he met. On the contrary, Pant played three knocks and was disappointed again, scoring 14, 17 and 20*. There has been some criticism over his inclusion ahead of Sanju Samson’s. But India wants to back Pant – ahead of DK or after him- that is the bigger question.
3) Should Management review India’s aggressive approach?
Ahead of the Asia Cup, Indian captain Rohit made it clear that the team had adopted an aggressive policy after last year’s T20 World Cup disaster. Their batting approach followed the same template. The fearless approach worked against teams like West Indies and Zimbabwe but came a cropper in the Asia Cup. India must consider what they do about it at the World Cup. Going all out won’t be easy against Pakistan and South Africa, or even Bangladesh, for that matter. Will Team India show a little bit of restraint or back their current philosophy?
4) Can Pandya be the third Pacer?
This is another big question mark. Pandya was backed as the third seamer in the Asia Cup. However, apart from the first match against Pakistan, he did not look convincing. Pakistan and Sri Lanka’s batters dealt with him relatively easily, and his short-ball ploy did not work. India has four pacers for the World Cup in the form of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Harshal Patel and Arshdeep Singh. Will they play Pandya as the third or fourth seamer then?
5) Should Axar be backed to play Jadeja's role?
Axar was drafted into the Asia Cup squad as a replacement for Jadeja. But India did not play him as a left-arm spinning all-rounder option. The 28-year-old is a good batter, bowler, and safe fielder, although not to the same extent as Jadeja. Axar has delivered the goods many times in recent matches, be it with the ball or even the bat. He has some potential, without a doubt. The big question again crops up – will they trust him as a like-for-like replacement for Jadeja?
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Words: Shimit Mathur