Three experiments India should perform in the New Zealand T20Is
Hardik Pandya will lead India in the NZ T20Is [Source: AP]
So near yet so far; this has been the case with India in the ICC white-ball events in the last few years. Since winning the Champions Trophy in 2013, India have made it into six semifinals, including two finals, losing all of them.
Yes, India entered the T20 World Cup 2022 as the underdogs. But the way they lost to England in the semis highlighted their glaring weaknesses, which they must sort out before the next World Cup in 2024.
The New Zealand series will allow India to perform a few experiments to build their team for the mission 2024. Here are three such bold experiments that the Men in Blue must execute in the series starting on Friday.
Try Rishabh Pant as an opener
Rishabh Pant in action [Source: AP]
Despite being extremely talented, Rishabh Pant has somehow failed to live up to the expectations in T20Is. 970 T20I runs at an average of 23.1 and a strike rate of 127.3 certainly don't do justice to his incredible potential.
As Pant has been a proven failure in the middle order, India should give him a decent number of chances at the top. He is a risk-taker; therefore, the think tank should give him the licence to attack from the word go.
If this move works, it can solve multiple problems for team India. Firstly, a left-hander at the top will make it challenging for the swing bowlers to get their lengths right. Secondly, it can eradicate the issue of a timid approach in the powerplay, which has been an eternal problem for India in the shortest format.
Reunite Kuldeep and Chahal
Indian spinners blew hot and cold in the T20 WC [Source: AP]
There was a time when Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav used to demolish the opponents' batting orders for fun. But Hardik Pandya playing purely as a batter meant India were forced to leave out one of their spin twins, replacing him with a seamer down the order.
Also, in the recently concluded World Cup, the Men in Blue preferred R Ashwin and Axar Patel, who could increase their batting depth apart from bowling four overs. But this formula didn't fetch the team any rewards, as both these players faltered in doing their primary job, i.e. picking wickets in the middle overs.
So, India must understand that they need attacking spinners who can force the batters to commit mistakes. And as they haven't picked Ravi Bishnoi, they should give it a go to reunite Chahal and Kuldeep, asking them to hunt in pairs, as they used to do a few years ago.
Get rid of the old school formula
Bhuvneshwar Kumar had a poor T20 WC campaign [Source: AP]
Every time India play a bilateral series, they go with their experienced players in the first few games and then replace them with the youngsters in the dead rubbers. This ideology of starting with the seniors, regardless of the needs of the team, hampers the team-building for the next ICC event.
Let's take the example of Bhuvneshwar Kumar. We know he has been an excellent operator of the new ball over the years, but at the same time, he has faltered repeatedly against strong teams in the ICC knockouts.
Additionally, he will be of 34 in 2024, when the next World Cup is scheduled. So, if India are really preparing a team for the future, I don't see any logic behind Kumar's selection right after his shambolic performances in the World Cup. Instead, India should invest in youngsters, giving them ample game-time to prepare themselves for the ICC events.