Rumour is now rife that India’s T20 World Cup squad will be announced following the conclusion of the 4th Test match of the ongoing series against England. The Test match, beginning on September 2nd will finish latest by September 6th. This means that the India T20 World Cup squad will be announced by the 7th day of this month.
The 2021 edition of the ICC T20 World Cup will be India’s first ICC assignment since the retirement of MS Dhoni, under whose leadership India won all ICC limited overs multi-nation tournaments, with the T20 World Cup of 2007 being his first. It was also the event that shot him to superstardom. Incidentally, the previous T20 World Cup, held in 2016, was Dhoni’s final ICC event as Indian captain.
Hence, in a way, India will be heading into a first major ICC white ball tournament without their guardian angel. And perhaps, more than ever, the eyes will be firmly planted on where Virat Kohli can lead his team to. The current Indian captain has been desperate to win an ICC trophy after narrow misses in three attempts since assuming leadership. Kohli was also the man of the series in the previous two editions of this tournament, without managing to win the whole thing.
Thusly, he will be – like the whole of India – eager to set the record straight, and consequently, correct the one missing piece in his glittering jigsaw. But for that to happen, a few tough calls must be taken in terms of squad selection. So, here is the probable 15-member squad for India heading into the T20 World Cup. It must be noted that ICC allows the provision of selecting only 15 players and India might carry 3 reserves in case of eventualities.
India T20 World Cup squad – batsmen
Skipper Virat Kohli and vice captain Rohit Sharma select themselves in the squad. Both men will be key to India’s hopes of going all the way in the T20 World Cup. Both are experienced players, having played in this event multiple times. Rohit, in fact, is the only remaining member from the 2007 squad who is still regularly playing for India.
KL Rahul is also an automatic pick in this team as his runs in IPL, and for India, makes him a crucial cog in the Indian wheel. Rahul did not have a good series against England but, in all likelihood, will open the batting in this tournament.
Surykumar Yadav is another name that will be on the list when the announcement is made for the squad. The right hander has been carrying his good form in this format for more than three years now and is a destructive player who can strike from the outset.
Another name that will feature in the squad is that of Shreyas Iyer, who is fit again after his long injury layoff. Iyer is playing in Oman and given his performances pre-injury, will be a middle order option for India.
This means that, unfortunately, there is no place for Shikhar Dhawan in this ICC event. The experienced southpaw could have staked a claim in the Sri Lanka series but his performances disappointed, meaning that he will not stay back in the UAE following the conclusion of the IPL. The ship for Manish Pandey also seems to have sailed.
Batsmen: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer
India T20 World Cup squad – wicketkeeper and all rounders
Rishabh Pant is the uncontested choice for wicketkeeper in this team and is likely to be the only one picked in the squad as KL Rahul can act as backup. This results in the likes of Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson missing out on a T20 World Cup squad berth. Pant is currently not enjoyed his time in England but on the flat decks of UAE, could be India’s trump card in the tournament.
Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja will be the two all rounders for India. The management will hope that Pandya can turn his arm around and contribute with a couple of overs in the T20 World Cup. The right arm medium pacer is a canny operator who has the ability to pick up wickets with clever changes of pace. Jadeja, whose batting has vastly improved, adds depth and finishing prowess at number 7.
Deepak Chahar is likely to be picked as an all rounder after his heroics in Sri Lanka. The medium pacer is also a dependable bowler who has picked up wickets at the top for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL and has also developed the ability of bowling at the death.
Wicketkeeper and all rounders: Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar
India T20 World Cup squad – bowlers
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah are automatic choices in the pace department. The former is a trusted lieutenant of captain Kohli who can bowl at any time in the innings and the Indian captain will hope he remains fit as he also adds to the batting depth. Bumrah, meanwhile, is probably the best T20 death bowler in the circuit as he can pull out a Yorker almost at will. A lot will depend on Bumrah’s form.
It will be interesting to see how many pacers India wants to pick given the spin friendly conditions of UAE, but it is likely that India will go with at least one in the reserves, making it a total of four pacers, if not five. Mohammed Shami will definitely travel with the side given his experience and ability to reverse the ball as the dry pitches get older with the progression of the tournament.
If a fifth pacer is picked in the India T20 World Cup squad, it will likely be Mohammed Siraj, who is currently enjoying the best time of his life. The RCB player is also liked by the management for his feisty yet humble attitude and, above all, is a wicket taking fast bowler.
That leaves space for only two spinners with Yuzvendra Chahal being the first pick. Now, Washington Sundar may have been the other spinner, but his injury has made matters slightly complicated. Rahul Chahar had a good outing in Sri Lanka and Kuldeep Yadav was also decent. Then there is the experience of R Ashwin, another player who adds batting depth and is probably the closest replacement of Sundar.
However, India is likely to pick Varun Chakravarthy given his uniqueness. The Kolkata Knight Riders bowler adds the mystery element to India’s bowling attack and is the only of his kind in the country currently. That the management has taken a fancy towards him is evident from the fact that he was picked long back, for the Australia tour and despite not being fit enough and injured for another tour following his initial selection, he was playing in Sri Lanka.
In case the management opts for three spinners and leave a pacer out, it will be the captain’s call for the fifteenth member and while it should be Ashwin, the place might just go to Rahul Chahar.
Bowlers: Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal, Varun Chakravarthy
India T20 World Cup squad: Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (WK), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal, Varun Chakravarthy