India are all set to start their campaign in New Zealand. To begin with, Virat Kohli and Co will take part in the five match T20I series, starting January 24 at the Eden Park in Auckland. Last year, India lost at the hands of the Black Claps and the visitors would be keen to make amends.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has already named the squads, also for the three-game ODI series. The squad for the Test series is yet to be announced though. It will be India’s first assignment overseas after their tour of the West Indies last year post World Cup.
Going into the series, India were faced with injury concerns to quite a few of their key players, including Hardik Pandya and Shikhar Dhawan. The selectors found solutions, but could’ve taken some bold calls looking into the future.
In the article, let’s take a look at five bold moved the Indian selectors could’ve resorted to: –
1. Giving the keeping gloves back to Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant’s concussion in the Mumbai ODI somewhat helped KL Rahul’s cause. The latter got to don the keeping gloves and didn’t flatter to deceive. Virat Kohli, was also impressed by the stumper’s prowess. Even as Rishabh Pant has made his comeback, it’s Rahul, who’s most likely to be persisted as the keeper in New Zealand as well.
It also allows the team to fit in an extra batsman. Moreover, it means deviating from their long-term goal. Rishabh Pant hasn’t been at his best as a keeper, but the team management kept showing faith in him.
Now with Rahul being contemplated as the stumper, it could end up denting Pant’s confidence. With the T20 World Cup ahead, too much experimentation may end up backfiring. The management could have gone back to Pant with Rahul as the backup.
2. Going for Shubman Gill ahead of Prithvi Shaw
Prithvi Shaw got his maiden ODI call-up after Shikhar Dhawan got ruled out due to a rib injury that he sustained during the Bangalore ODI. In the last 12 months, Shaw has battled injuries and suspensions, but hasn’t gone out of the radar. He was in decent enough form in the 2019-20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy as well.
However, one person who could have got a look in was Shubman Gill. In fact, last year during the same New Zealand tour, Gill made his ODI debut after Virat Kohli took a break from the last two matches. Though he failed in the games, the Fazilka-born otherwise has had an impressive List A career.
In 57 games, the 20-year-old has 2280 runs at 45.60. Nevertheless, Gill will be getting experience of playing in New Zealand as he has been appointed as India A’s captain for the One Day series.
3. Dropping Kedar Jadhav for a youngster
Kedar Jadhav doesn’t have the slam-bang game up his sleeves, but he is mightily effective, batting in the middle-order. An ODI average of 42.31 in 71 matches with two centuries speaks volumes about the temperament he possesses. Though he hasn’t gotten a whole lot of chances of late, Jadhav’s utility can’t be undermined by any means.
However, at the age of 34, Jadhav is not getting younger. In the Australia ODIs, Jadhav didn’t get a chance despite being in the squad. In recent times, the Indian team management has focussed on blooding in quite a few youngsters.
Jadhav has been picked even for the New Zealand tour, but it remains to be seen if he breaks into the eleven. The selectors could have thought beyond Jadhav and got in some fresh face, keeping an eye into the future.
4. Resting Jasprit Bumrah
Jasprit Bumrah made his comeback in the Sri Lanka T20Is after recovering from his back injury. The speedster went on to play the series against Australia. But he is yet to come into his own and churn out his yorkers with sheer ease. He is expected to spearhead India’s attack in the T20 World Cup.
Hence, managing his workload is of prime standing, ensuring that he doesn’t sustain another injury. Fast bowlers are mostly prone to injuries due to the strain that goes into their action it’s not any different for the Ahmedabad-born fast bowler.
Bumrah could have been rested for the ODI series, since in the next few months, T20Is will be India’s focus. The Men in Blue have a chock-a-block schedule for the next few months, including the Indian Premier League (IPL). Therefore, Bumrah could have been given a break.
5. Picking Mohammed Siraj for Shardul Thakur
Shardul Thakur has been in and out of the Indian team after making his debut way back in 2017. The Mumbai fast bowler has been guilty of leaking way too many runs in crunch moments of a game. He was a part of India’s setup in the ODI series against Australia, but was dropped after the Mumbai match.
David Warner and Aaron Finch laid into him and put the Aussies on the driver’s seat. Navdeep Saini replaced Thakur in the eleven for the last two ODIs. The management didn’t sideline Thakur from the squad though and picked him for the New Zealand tour.
Replacing Thakur, India could have opted for Mohammed Siraj, who can wreak havoc in those conditions. Siraj was also India A’s standout bowler in their first One Dayer against New Zealand A where he picked three wickets.
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