Other than Jasprit Bumrah, no other pacer at present appears to be a confirmed selection in India’s squad for the T20 World Cup next year in the Caribbean and the United States.
The five-match T20I series against Australia, beginning in Visakhapatnam on Thursday, will thus be a test for the pace quartet of Arshdeep Singh, Prasidh Krishna, Mukesh Kumar and Avesh Khan to not just make an impression, but also have a ticket booked for the flight to South Africa for the three T20Is which begin on December 10.
The South Africa T20Is get underway within a week after the Australia matches end on December 3. With those games also being an important part of India’s T20 Cup preparation, the four quicks will surely be eyeing a place there as well in order to stay in the reckoning for the showpiece in June.
There will obviously be more opportunities going forward, including the two-and-a-half-month-long IPL. For the time being though, the T20Is versus Australia and South Africa assume utmost importance for the four of them.
“Their selection for the Australia series itself is an indication that these four
fast bowlers are on the radar and their performances will be thoroughly monitored, keeping in mind the T20 World Cup in June,” a BCCI insider told The Telegraph on Tuesday.
Mohammed Siraj, in spite of being a regular in 50-over cricket, still doesn’t seem to be inspiring much confidence when it comes to the shortest format. As for Mohammed Shami, the highest wicket-taker in the just-concluded ODI World Cup with 24 scalps, the national selectors prefer marking him for Tests and ODIs only.
“Bumrah aside, there isn’t any other pacer assured of a sure-shot berth in the T20I team. Siraj has done well in ODIs, but in T20s, he’s yet to have that kind of an impact.
“Coming to Shami, selectors want him to be kept in cotton wool... They want Shami to be fresh for the bigger formats given his effectiveness.
“They don’t wish to risk him in T20s as by any chance he picks up an injury, he could be missed in Tests. Something the team wouldn’t want,” the Board insider added.
India play two away Tests against the Proteas and five at home against England in the next four months, which are all part of the ongoing World Test Championship cycle.
Coming back to the five matches against the Matthew Wade-led Australia, a greater focus would be on left-armer Arshdeep and Prasidh. His ability to swing the ball
both ways and bowl the yorker in the slog overs had earned Arshdeep a place in last year’s T20 World Cup, where he
finished as India’s top wicket-taker with 10 scalps from
This year, the 24-year-old did well at home against New Zealand earlier in January with decent returns in the two-match series in Ireland as
well as the Asian Games in Hangzhou. But on the West Indies tour back in August,
Arshdeep couldn’t quite get his lengths right during crucial junctures, an area he may to have work on.
To talk of Prasidh, who featured in the ODI Cup squad as a replacement for the injured Hardik Pandya, he has so far featured in only two T20Is (both versus Ireland). That too, having returned following a long injury layoff.
Bengal quick Mukesh and Avesh, both of who were also there in the Asian Games squad, would also be hoping for their chances in the XI. Mukesh did have a better IPL this year for Delhi Capitals and also impressed in phases against the Windies, though he struggled a bit in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy.
Being extremely erratic at times is a concern for Avesh as well, which he needs to be careful about.