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regular-article-logo Friday, 01 March 2024

Team India mark run-up on road to T20 World Cup in June

Add Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya to vibrant mix and team will be ready with its recipe of success

Indranil Majumdar Calcutta Published 05.12.23, 07:44 AM
Yashasvi Jaiswal is ready to scale the next level.

Yashasvi Jaiswal is ready to scale the next level. PTI picture

Rohit Sharma laid down the template for success in T20s during last season’s IPL, stressing the need to take the game to a “different level”.

“As I see it, there’s no role for an anchor anymore... It’s just how T20 cricket is being played these days unless you are 20/3 or 20/4 which won’t happen every day... if you don’t change your mindset you are going to get smashed,” Rohit said.

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The just-concluded T20I series against Australia has been a true reflection of Rohit’s concept of bold and fearless cricket. A young, vibrant team has thrown caution to the winds while producing an exciting brand which is expected to produce the desired results.

Ruturaj Gaikwad.

Ruturaj Gaikwad. PTI

One common inference from India’s loss in the semi-final of the T20 World Cup’s last edition was the poor strike-rate of the batters. Rohit and Virat Kohli were benched si­nce they were guilty of not being courageous enough.

But Rohit’s dynamic batting in the Powerplay of the ODI World Cup has put him back in the reckoning for the next T20 World Cup in June. The national selectors feel his courageous stroke-making and astute captaincy can set the benchmark for this side.

Rinku Singh.

Rinku Singh. PTI

The scars of the loss to Australia in the 50-over final are still fresh in memory. The youngsters’ failure to overcome the nerves in a high-octane atmosphere showed in their performance. Rohit’s presence along with Hardik Pandya is expected to provide experience and stability.

The way the likes of Rutu­raj Gaikwad, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Ishan Kishan batted in the five-match T20I series against Australia will make the competition tougher.

Axar Patel.

Axar Patel. PTI

The emergence of Rinku Singh as a specialist finisher has almost confirmed his place in the West Indies and US-bound squad.

The KKR batter’s quick ability to read match situations and clarity of thought are responsible for his explosive batting. No wonder he was the match-winner in at least two of India’s four victories.

The same applies for Ruturaj. He failed in the first match but came up with a stellar show to finish with 223 runs, including a century.

Five of the batters, including Ruturaj, finished the series with a 150-plus strike-rate, which is a portrayal of the team’s courageous batting.

The tussle for the top order will only intensify — Rohit, Ruturaj, Jaiswal, Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill to battle for
four spots. There will be Su­ryakumar Yadav and Pandya to follow which will make
the batting unit fiery and impregnable.

Ravi Bishnoi.

Ravi Bishnoi. PTI

The bowling can’t be ignored too. Arshdeep Singh’s maturity showed in the last over in Bangalore on Sunday when he successfully defended 10 runs. But it was the spin duo of Axar Patel and Ravi Bishnoi that made run-making difficult in the middle overs.

Axar has been a revelation since missing out on the 50-over World Cup because
of injury.

He stifled Tim David and Matthew Short during an important phase of the Australian chase, prompting them to take undue risks. The left-arm spinner contained the batters in the Powerplay with his accuracy and variations in pace, finishing with an economy of 6.20.

It’s unfortunate that Axar missed out on the T20 squad for South Africa but he will remain in the team’s plans.

Bishnoi has been equally good. India missed out on a few opportunities by not playing a wrist spinner in Australia and can’t afford to repeat such mistakes this time. He can provide breakthroughs any time with his drift and turn and finished the series as the highest wicket-taker with nine scalps.

The selectors don’t need to experiment much. By sticking to the nucleus of this group they can hope to fulfil the expectations. Attaining Rohit’s concept of a “different level” won’t be a difficult task in the circumstances.

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