An abundance of riches can sometimes prove to be a double-edged sword. India’s pace bowling stock may have got richer during the last couple of years, but the national selectors will find themselves in a quandary when choosing the personnel for the T20 World Cup in Australia.
The International Cricket Council has set a September 16 deadline for announcing the 15-member squad which implies that the ODI series in Zimbabwe and the Asia Cup will prove to be selection trials for those waiting in the wings. The T20Is against Australia and South Africa at home begin on September 20 and those matches will serve only as a precursor to the showpiece event Down Under. Captain Rohit Sharma has already made it clear that “80- 90 per cent of the team is set”. For the few slots available, the competition among the fast bowlers is sure to intensify.
Deepak Chahar provided a timely reminder to the selectors with 3 for 27 in Harare on Thursday. More than the format, it is his rhythm which mattered most to the selectors. He may have recovered a bit too late but head coach Rahul Dravid knows his capabilities too well since his India A days.
Besides being a frontrunner for the new-ball role because of his ability to swing the ball, he also brings value with the bat. With him at No. 7/8, India could play several bowling combinations without sacrificing on batting depth.
Jasprit Bumrah is expected to recover from his lower-back spasms but there remains a cloud of uncertainty over Harshal Patel’s recovery. Mohammed Shami, who hasn’t played a T20I since the last World Cup, stays firmly in contention because of his experience and familiarity to the conditions in Australia. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is a certainty since he provides wicket-taking options.
Left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh brings variety to the table and will be the dark horse. There are also youngsters like Avesh Khan and Prasidh Krishna who could fit into the format. India are likely to include eight batsmen, three spinners and four pacers in their squad. But given the jostle for berths, a fifth pacer is a possibility.
“Dravid always has longterm plans in mind. He is trying out all options. The concept is clear: if there’s an injury to say a Bumrah, India shouldn’t be lacking pacers with international experience before such a major event. This is a well-thought-out process,” someone in the know of things told The Telegraph.