Team India lacks balance despite bold calls by selectors

Sanju Samson and Yuzvendra Chahal
Sanju Samson and Yuzvendra Chahal have made it to the squad based on their IPL success. File photo: AFP/Arun Sankar

The Indian selectors have made a couple of bold moves while picking the squad for the forthcoming Twenty20 World Cup. The panel headed by Ajit Agarkar has gone for a nice blend of experience and aggression as the Men in Blue hope to end an 11-year title drought in ICC events and clinch a second T20 World Cup after 2007. But there are worrying signs as the squad lacks the perfect balance.

There was no surprise regarding the captaincy as Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary Jay Shah had announced in February itself that Rohit Sharma will be in charge of Team India in the showpiece. The top-order consisting of Rohit, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav too was more or less a foregone conclusion. The emergence of Jaiswal meant Shubman Gill was pushed to the reserves' list.

There was intense competition for the wicketkeeper's slot. In the end Sanju Samson and Rishabh Pant made it edging out K L Rahul. The selectors have preferred the game-changing abilities of Sanju and Pant over Rahul's consistency. Both Sanju and Pant have been hugely impressive for Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Capitals, respectively, in the ongoing IPL 2024. They are power-hitters and could turn the game on its head in a couple overs. It remains to be seen who will be the first-choice stumper once the Indian campaign gets underway on June 5 against Ireland. 

Hardik Pandya and Shivam Dube got the nod as seam-bowling all-rounders, while the experienced Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel are the spin-bowling all-rounders. The wrist-spinning duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal will feature again in a mega event for the first time since the 2019 ODI World Cup. Chahal has forced his way back into the squad on the basis of his IPL exploits.

Hardik Pandya
A lot will depend on how Hardik Pandya performs with the ball. File photo: PTI/Kunal Patil

The selectors have picked just three specialist pacers in Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Arshdeep Singh. They are banking on Pandya to come good on the slow tracks in the Caribbean and it's a big gamble. Death bowling remains a worry for India as barring Bumrah, both Siraj and Arshdeep have found the going tough this IPL.

The big question is whether India can end their long wait for a global title. There is very little to choose between the sides in the shortest format of the game. The absence of a cool finisher like Rinku Singh could hurt the India in the big games. The left-hander had done remarkably well in the few chances he got at the international level and can consider himself unlucky.

Rinku Singh
Rinku Singh was unlucky to miss the bus. File photo: PTI

None of the Indian top-order batters can chip in with a couple of overs on a consistent basis. To make matters worse, the Indian bowlers can barely bat. Also there is the psychological barrier of delivering in the knockout games.

This is the final chance for Rohit and Kohli to win a World Cup together and the onus is on the elder statesmen to come good at the crunch. Needless to say, India will need a team effort if they have to go all the way.

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