3 things India need to do to prepare for the T20 World Cup in Australia
Recovering speedily from a traumatizing elimination in the penultimate fixture of the World Cup 2019, the India team has shifted its focus to lifting the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia which commences on 18 October 2020.
Barring the inaugural edition of the T20 World Cup where the MS Dhoni-led India defeated arch-rivals Pakistan in a nail-biting decider, the Men in Blue have never crossed the finish line in the showpiece event.
Experimentation has been the buzzword for India lately, which has helped shape the T20 squad well. The panel of selectors have gambled with numerous alternatives for various positions in the recent past in both departments, batting and bowling.
"Our vision is very clear. We have to build a team for the World Cup. We have a core team ready and there are those who are on the fringe. We have to try out a few more players. Once we have tried enough players, four months before the World Cup, which is about 12 months from now, we will play with the main team. If there are 25 T20s maybe in 10-12 we will experiment," chief selector MSK Prasad said while speaking about India's plans for the T20 World Cup in a press conference after India's shocking exit from the WC 2019.
With the preparations already underway for the T20 bonanza, let us look at three specific things India should do to prepare for it:
1. Banking on Rishabh Pant's X-factor
After providing him with umpteen opportunities, the management seems to have ultimately decided to give up on veteran Dinesh Karthik. Talented youngster Rishabh Pant has finally cemented a place in the squad, replacing the exuberant middle-order batsman - thanks to his displays of brilliance in the IPL.
Considered as one of the most destructive batsmen of the modern generation, the flamboyant southpaw could turn into an essential part of the Indian setup. He is a ferocious striker of the cricket ball, which is unarguably a rare commodity.
The dynamic player has often been at the receiving end of criticism for his shot-selection in crunch moments, as he tends to recklessly throw away his wicket in an unnecessary search for the glory shot even when the situation demands sensible batting. However, a composed 65 in the final T20 encounter against West Indies silenced the doubters, and presenting a slight glimpse of a transition from an immature prodigy to a responsible batsman.
If Pant can effectively mold the technical aspects of his game, combining his stroke-making prowess with a touch of caution, he can prove immensely beneficial in the anticipated showpiece event.
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2. Relying on Manish Pandey and Shreyas Iyer in the middle order
The talented Manish Pandey and Shreyas Iyer have been selected in the Indian T20 squad for the Caribbean assignment. Oscillating in an out of the squad for a long time now, the duo is expected to be cushioned with a sustained run in the brisk-paced format.
Both Pandey and Iyer have been knocking on the doors of selection with consistent performances in the domestic arena and India A tournaments. As ODI regulars Dinesh Karthik and Kedar Jadhav do not find a place in India’s T20 mix anymore, the onus is on the youngsters to deliver to their potential.
Notching up a breezy 71 in the second ODI against the Calypso men, Iyer has already embarked on the path to terminate the number four conundrum. Boasting of an all-round well-developed game, the duo is extremely crucial to Indian preparations for the illustrious mega event in Australia next year.
3. Grooming Saini, Chahar and Khaleel to strengthen the pace attack
Ahead of the T20 tournament Down Under, India will look to strengthen its pace battery. Under the watchful guidance of specialists Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the promising trio of speedsters Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini and Khaleel Ahmed need to be groomed effectively to flourish at the international level.
Saini, supposedly the pick of the lot, impressed one and all with his searing pace and precise control in the recently concluded T20 series. Deepak Chahar also rose to the occasion, justifying his selection with incredible figures of 3-0-4-3.
Khaleel can be a tad expensive at times, bowling waywardly on both sides of the wicket, but the Rajsthan lad is a smart operator and will quickly learn and improve as a T20 bowler.
The budding fast bowlers have a tough ask ahead of themselves, considering the skills of the rampant modern-day batsmen armored with thick willows. But if they are given enough faith and opportunities, there's no reason why they can't be groomed into deadly forces.
With an abundance of T20 action scheduled at home against South Africa, Bangladesh, West Indies and Zimbabwe in the next six months, India would hope to rectify their shortcomings and progress significantly as a T20 unit, with the aim to clinch the coveted prize.