Team India are done and dusted with their bilateral series and will soon fly out to Australia for the T20 World Cup 2022. The eighth edition of the T20 World Cup will kick off with the preliminary round on October 16 and the Super 12 round on October 22.
India’s first match is against Pakistan on October 23. However, the Men In Blue have some glaring issues which have been brought to attention in the recent series against Australia and South Africa – both of which, though, India won 2-1 – and before that in the Asia Cup, where India failed to reach the final.
Here are the major concerns for Team India ahead of the T20 World Cup 2022:
Jasprit Bumrah’s replacement
The Indian team will leave for Australia on 6 October. However, the BCCI hasn’t yet named the 15th member of the squad after Jasprit Bumrah was ruled out. Bumrah’s back injury – which had also seen him miss the Asia Cup; he returned for 2 T20Is vs Australia before the injury again flared up – has opened up a slot in the playing XI and in the squad.
Mohammed Shami is likely to replace Bumrah in the squad, however, Shami hasn’t played a T20I since last year’s T20 World Cup in the UAE, and missed the series against Australia and South Africa due to covid. He will fly to Australia where his fitness and recovery from covid will be monitored.
Deepak Chahar, who is in the reserves, could also get a place in the squad as he adds batting depth too. Mohammed Siraj may also be pondered over by the management to take to Australia, where he had success in Test cricket.
In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, India’s death bowling attack remains the biggest concern. Bhuvneshwar, Harshal, and Chahar all have been expensive in the death overs in recent times, and while Arshdeep has done well, he’s only played a handful of T20Is in his career so far.
India’s death bowling issues started in the Asia Cup and carried into the Australia and South Africa series. In death overs in T20Is in 2022, Bhuvneshwar has leaked at over 11 runs an over, Harshal, Siraj and Pandya at over 10.
No back-up of Hardik Pandya
Even though India, under the new management of Sharma-Dravid, has tried a spate of players in T20Is this year, they have failed to identify the back-up of Hardik Pandya. Venkatesh Iyer, after his exploits for KKR in the second half of IPL 2021, seemed prime to be Pandya’s back-up, but fell away soon as his form dipped.
So India have headed into the T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia without any seam-bowling all-rounder back-up of Hardik Pandya! Injury to Ravindra Jadeja had already messed up their plans; fingers crossed, India would hope that Pandya remains fit to bowl as well throughout the tournament.
No clarity over Rishabh Pant’s role
Dinesh Karthik is clearly the first-choice keeper-batsman now, the veteran batter showing excellent form in the role of a finisher. This has, however, left Rishabh Pant in the lurch. Pant’s role in the team is far from clear.
In the Asia Cup he got games because India needed a left-hander in the eleven after Jadeja’s injury. Then he was dropped before DK sealed his spot. Against South Africa, he was placed in the middle-order before in the third T20I against the Proteas, Pant opened the innings. He had also opened in England in July. So, while Pant is not a first-choice player in the XI, the management should have done better with handling the 25-year-old.
Yuzvendra Chahal not the first spinner anymore
A big point which isn’t being talked much about is Yuzvendra Chahal not playing any of the three T20Is vs South Africa. India instead brought R Ashwin, the premier off-spinner, to play all three matches against SA mainly because SA had three left-handers.
However, by dropping Chahal for Ashwin, the management may have just told Chahal that he will be dropped whenever there is an opposition with at least 2 left-handers in the top 6. Yes, Chahal had struggled for consistency in the Asia Cup and vs Australia, but this might still not be the best message to send across to your senior leg-spinner ahead of the T20 World Cup 2022.