International cricket is a relentless treadmill. It just goes on, and on and on. Not that we are complaining! So, here we are now! Its that time of the cricket season where one major event has ended and the next one is upon us. And back-to-back. Yep! The next two years will see the best teams in the world battle it out in two successive ICC T20 World Cups for the right to be crowned as the Twenty20 World Champions.
So, with 12 months and a bit to go, all teams have now shrugged off whatever the ignominy there was of their unsuccessful 2019 World Cup campaign and have well-and-truly gone to the drawing board to prepare for the next marquee event. Team India will have 25 odd T20Is to experiment with different combinations/players and try and come out with a world-beating unit. And, speaking of players, India has a plethora of precociously talented youngsters who they can try in the upcoming months.
Here we bring you five players who can make their India debut before T20 World Cup 2020:
5. Shubman Gill
It is a travesty really that a guy boasting of the talent like Shubman Gill has still not made his debut in the shortest format of the game for the national side. Ever since he made his debut in domestic cricket, the Punjab batsman has been in the news for all the right reasons.
From being the highest run-getter in India’s 2018 U19 World Cup campaign to becoming the mainstay for Punjab and India A in red-ball cricket, the teenager has come a long way in his brief cricket career. His shot-making- especially the cover-drive and the flat-arm jab- force people to compare him, Virat Kohli.
His swashbuckling form in first-class cricket has earned him a national call-up for the Test side but with India opting to show more trust in experience over-exuberance of youth, the Punjab batsman was denied entry in the shortest format of the game for the second successive T20I series. In 32 T20s, Gill has scored 614 runs at an average of 32.31 and a strike-rate of 132.90.
4. Shreyas Gopal
Another left-field choice, considering the fact that India has already been trying the likes of Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, and Rahul Chahar besides having the experienced pair of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal to fall back on. But, Shreyas Gopal, as you would have seen in the IPL over the past few years, isn’t a bad punt to put your money on.
A right-arm leg-spinner who has bamboozled the likes of AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli, not once, not twice but on a plethora of instances, there is something about his guile and variations that continues to clutter batsmen’s minds. Gopal had a breakout 2019 IPL season where he claimed a sensational hattrick against the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
His victims were: Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, and Marcus Stoinis. Overall, the leg-spinner claimed 20 wickets across the 2019 season. In 49 T20s, Gopal has claimed 59 wickets at an average of 17.35 and an economy of 7.27.
3. Shivam Dube
Another precocious talent out of Mumbai who can be tried ahead of the Twenty20 World Cups in 2020 and 2021. Dube, a hard-hitting batsman, and an able medium-fast bowler shot into limelight when he struck veteran spinner Pravin Tambe for five sixes in an over.
But the defining moment of his career arrived during last year’s Ranji Trophy where he had a breakout season with both bat and ball. In what was ultimately a disappointing season for Mumbai, Shivam Dube was one of the few shining lights. The all-rounder finished as the second-highest run-getter, scoring 632 runs while taking 23 wickets at an average of 23.21.
The performances in the domestic circuit earned him an IPL contract with the Royal Challengers Bangalore. But due to a combination of poor form and lack of opportunities, the all-rounder could not fulfil his potential. He has, however, been a regular feature for the India A unit, and in the recently concluded One-Day series, finished as the third-highest run-getter (155 runs in 4 games).
Considering Hardik Pandya has been suffering from back issues, Dube can serve as an ideal backup option for the Baroda all-rounder. In 19 T20s thus far, Dube has 242 runs at a strike-rate of 142.35 besides taking 14 wickets at an average of 23.57.
2. Ishan Kishan
Another talent who was tipped as the next superstar from Jharkhand when he made his debut in domestic cricket. Ishan Kishan rose to limelight when he led India to the final of the 2016 U19 World Cup. But a barren run in the tournament where Rishabh Pant topped the charts saw him slip beneath his compatriot in the pegging order.
Kishan is only one of the two Indian batsmen who have scored back-to-back hundreds in Twenty20 cricket; a feat he achieved in last years Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. India are looking to invest in the next line of wicket-keeper- batsman even as Pant is going through a rough patch.
Ishan Kishan can be a prudent alternative to him. Kishan, who plays for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL, has played 70 T20s thus far where he has scored 1628 runs at a strike-rate of 130.86.
1. Prithvi Shaw
A left-field choice really, considering the fact that India already has three openers in the mix in the form of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, and KL Rahul, but one definitely worth trying out with two back-to-back T20 World Cups coming up in 2020 & 2021. Prithvi Shaw is not the first Mumbai batsman to turn the heads of the cricketing folklore with his precocious talent, and he certainly won’t be last.
And, just like a certain teenager did three decades ago, this young prodigy too didn’t take much time in showcasing his manic batting skills. His unprecedented 546- the highest score in competitive cricket at the time- as a 14-year-old were first signs of his precocious talent. The Mumbaikar then proceeded to score a hundred on both his Duleep Trophy and Ranji Trophy debut; a feat achieved previously only by the Great Sachin Tendulkar.
In 2018, Shaw led India to World Cup glory in U19 cricket and soon went on to make his India debut later in Test cricket later in the year against the West Indies. His 99-ball-100 on debut was another testimony to his seamless transition from domestic to international cricket until an injury and a subsequent drug test failure put an abrupt halt to his career. With the suspension due to end shortly, it’ll be interesting to see how the teenage responds to adversity.
A predominantly bottom-handed batsman, Shaw is a fierce puller and hooker of the game. His bottom-handed play allows him to generate a great speed off his bat and his domestic T20 numbers enforce the fact that he could be the torchbearer of the next generation of Indian openers in white-ball cricket. And someone who India should invest in, keeping the two T20 World Cups in mind. In 33 T20s thus far, Shaw has scored 733 runs at a strike-rate of 143.24 including five half-centuries.
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