Which players should represent India in the T20 World Cup 2024?
Hardik Pandya should lead India in the next T20 World Cup [Source: AP]
When India departed for Australia to participate in the T20 World Cup 2022, very few people had expected them to emerge triumphant in the campaign. Of course, there were some reasons for that; they lost Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja to injury, and some key players were struggling with form. But I bet nobody had anticipated their gut-wrenching ouster, which we witnessed two days ago, as Rohit Sharma and co were beaten black and blue by a robust English outfit in the second semifinal at the iconic MCG.
Nevertheless, as they say, failures are foundation stones of success forts; the Indian think tank must prepare a blueprint for the next T20 World Cup. They should understand T20I is different from ODIs, and the team needs specialists to succeed in the format. So, let's see how an ideal T20 team looks like and which players India should trust to build such an XI.
Openers: Prithvi Shaw and Rishabh Pant (Complimentary by hand and nature)
Prithvi Shaw with David Warner [Source: Twitter]
There must be a risk-taker at the top order to exploit the field restrictions in the powerplay. Prithvi Shaw is the first player to strike my mind for the aggressor's role. He averages 28.7 and strikes at a blistering 156 against the seamers in the powerplay. He also strikes at 141 against right-arm off-spinners and, thus, can complement his left-handed partner perfectly.
On the other hand, Pant averages 38.9 and strikes at 150.8 against right-arm leg spinners and slow left-armers. Thus, the opposition won't introduce spin straightaway with this pair opening the batting. Additionally, both are excellent players of medium pace, and the swing bowlers will undoubtedly find it difficult to get their lengths right against this RHB-LHB batting duo.
Number 3: Shubman Gill (Busy against spin and good player of hard length)
The number three batter in an ideal T20 team should be able to rotate the strike against spinners, hitting occasional boundaries. But, more importantly, he should be an excellent player of hard-length bowling, as teams usually bring their hit-the-deck seamers in the middle overs in the shortest format. India don't have a better player than Shubman Gill in this aspect.
The Punjab batter strikes at a magnificent 138 and records a dot percentage of only 25.8 against spinners in the middle overs. He can also smash the hard-length body-line deliveries, complementing Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya.
Number 4 and 5: Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya
Suryakumar Yadav is India's trump card in the middle overs [Source: AP]
There should be no debate regarding these two spots. Suryakumar Yadav, with his ability against spin and range against pace, is locked for the next World Cup. And as we have seen, Hardik Pandya loves to enter the ground with 7-8 overs remaining. Therefore, the think tank should trust him to bat at number five.
Number 6: Sanju Samson (Pace hitter with range)
The number six in an ideal T20 team should be someone who can maul any kind of pace to different parts of the ground, and Sanju Samson satisfies this criterion for me. He can dispatch deliveries pitched at any length to the stands efficiently and also survive if the opposition keeps one over of wrist spin for him towards the backend.
Number 7: Ravindra Jadeja (pace hitter + supporting spinner)
Ravindra Jadeja in action [Source: Twitter]
As it stands, Ravindra Jadeja has a lot of cricket left in him and is still the best spin all-rounder in the country. His numbers against pace in the death overs (17-20) are staggering since the IPL 2020 (Average: 59.3, Strike Rate: 205.4). Additionally, he is a live wire in the field. So, it will be wrong to discount him at the moment.
If he doesn't play, his obvious alternative will be someone like Shahbaz Ahmed or Abhishek Sharma.
Number 8: Jasprit Bumrah (The all-phase seamer)
Jasprit Bumrah in action [Source: Twitter]
I don't need to mention the attributes of Jasprit Bumrah, the T20I bowler, as his record speaks volumes for him. He is India's best all-phase pacer across conditions and should spearhead their pace attack in the next T20 World Cup.
Number 9: Ravi Bishnoi (The lead spinner)
I don't want India to treat Ravi Bishnoi as they treated Yuzvendra Chahal. It is essential to groom him from now and play him as their lead spinner in the next World Cup.
Bishnoi can bamboozle any batting lineup with his variations. More importantly, he has a phenomenal record against LHBs and, thus, can be complementary to Jadeja, who will be trusted to neutralise the RHBs.
Number 10: Umran Malik (The middle-overs enforcer)
Every team has some batters who struggle against raw pace. And Umran Malik is the lone India seamer who can consistently bowl at an excess of 150 kph. Moreover, he is skiddy, targets stumps and thus, will be lethal on the two-paced surfaces in West Indies.
Number 11: Arshdeep Singh (Swing in the pp + Support at the death)
Arshdeep Singh celebrating a dismissal [Source: AP]
India included Arshdeep Singh in their team for his ability to bowl yorkers at the death. But the promising left-arm pacer proved his mettle with the new ball in the World Cup, emerging as India's go-to-man in the powerplay.
He can swing the ball upfront and nail yorkers towards the backend, and his left-arm angle is an advantage, ensuring ample variety in the attack. So, ideally, Arshdeep should open the bowling alongside Bumrah in the T20 World Cup 2024.
Ideal team for T20 World Cup 2024
Rishabh Pant (WK)
Hardik Pandya (C)