India won the T20 International series in Australia convincingly, but some problem areas remain. Can the team iron out its niggles by October next year, when the T20 World Cup will be staged on home soil?
TOI takes a look…
The Rohit-Rahul switch
Rohit Sharma is expected to be fit and ready to fire at the top of the order come the World Cup. Assuming the Rohit-Dhawan partnership stays, KL Rahul will need to be pushed back to No. 4. Given the uncertainties that plague the middle order, maybe that won’t be a bad thing.
More beef in the middle….
This is a problem area. None among Sanju Samson/Manish Pandey/Shreyas Iyer seem certainties. Samson failed to build on his starts in Australia but holds the promise of dazzling strokeplay. Iyer had a memorable over against Zampa to show, but little else. Pandey seems to be criminally under-used. What happens when Rahul is pushed back down the order?
Add Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan in the mix and there are simply too many choices. Captain Kohli admitted that India lost Tuesday’s third T20I because they slowed down in the middle overs while batting. That begs the question, can Rishabh Pant claw his way back by October next?
…Or maybe more allrounders?
Hardik Pandya seems to be set at No. 6 as the power-packed finisher. But can he bowl his full quota with the ball in the World Cup? If Pandya remodels his action and regains full fitness, India will be formidable at home. Ravindra Jadeja, in home conditions, is a certainty and the only genuine allrounder available as of now, meaning India can toy with another left-field option to solve the middle muddle.
On current batting form, why not push Jadeja up to No. 5, retain Pandya at No. 6 and make place for another allround option at No.7 to share the sixth-bowling role and chip in explosively with the bat?
India have one year to figure out who can improve his six-hitting prowess and economy rate enough to perform this role. Likely candidates are Krunal Pandya, Tewatia, Dube, Axar, Harshal Patel… Vijay Shankar, anyone? Problem is, none of them seem like the undisputed choice.
Maybe, India can also encourage Shardul Thakur, who hit some impressive sixes the other day, to work on his batting and move up to No.7. That will free up space for an extra bowler too.
The question of spin
Chahal is a certainty at home. So is Jadeja.
Chahal-Sundar too can combine to perform a potent T20 spin attack. On Australian pitches, though, the Swepson-Zampa combine debatably did a better job of putting on the choke in the middle overs. Sundar, however, had a tremendous series (ER 7.08). He can bat too! But all three of Jadeja / Sundar / Chahal cannot play unless a few regular players sit out.
The fielding and catching
India boast some of the finest fielders around but they have had too many ordinary moments of late. The deluge of dropped catches in the third T20I was inexplicable. It’s yet another area India need to figure out ways to improve.
The rise and rise of Natarajan
Bumrah and Shami/Shardul Thakur are certainties. But the toast of the town is undoubtedly Natarajan, especially after Kohli made it clear the bowler could fit into India’s World Cup plans. But what then of Deepak Chahar?