It’s been over two weeks since India’s heart-breaking semi-final exit in the ICC Cricket World Cup. However, they will be back on the road in no time. They are due to travel to the Caribbean for a full-fledged tour. India will play three T20Is, three ODIs and two Test matches, which will be their first series under the brand-new ICC Test championship.
They will kickstart the tour with the T20I series. The first two games of the series will be played in Lauderhill, Florida (USA). The final game of the series will be played in Guyana. This will also effectively start India’s preparation for next year’s World T20 which will take place in Australia.
Thus, India have named a strong 15-man squad. There are a couple of new faces in the team with Rahul Chahar and Navdeep Saini receiving maiden T20I call-ups while there are other youngsters like Washington Sundar, Khaleel Ahmed and Deepak Chahar who have been a part of the side before.
Hence, with just a week to go for the series, let’s look at the possible playing XI for the ‘Men in Blue’:
Rohit Sharma. (Photo Source: Twitter)
India’s limited-overs vice-captain has been in fine form. Rohit Sharma was the highest run-scorer in the World Cup. He made 648 runs at a fabulous average of 81.00. He scored as many as five hundreds in the tournament which is the most by any batsman in the history of World Cup cricket.
However, he didn’t have the best of IPLs this year. The Mumbai Indians skipper might’ve scored 405 runs in the season but he constantly failed to convert starts. He could score just two fifties in the tournament. However, he is a different beast when he plays the shortest format for India.
No other player in the history of T20I cricket has more runs than Rohit Sharma (2331 T20I runs). Moreover, he has scored four hundreds which is also the most by any batsman in the T20 Internationals. Thus, he will continue to be a vital cog at the top of the order.
Shikhar Dhawan. (Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)
Shikhar Dhawan will be returning to the Indian squad after an injury layoff. The Delhi left-hander fractured his thumb during the World Cup in the game against Australia. He was subsequently ruled out of the entire tournament. However, he has been declared fit for this tour.
There was a point when Dhawan’s T20 cricket was going nowhere. He didn’t really have the best of records neither did he perform consistently. However, in the last year or so, the southpaw has really upped his game in the shortest format. He finished 2018 as the leading run-getter in T20Is for the calendar year. Moreover, he has done really well in the IPL in the last couple of years.
Also, Dhawan scored a fantastic ton against Australia in the World Cup before he was injured. Thus, he will be looking to take that form forward. Dhawan will look to return to his lethal best post his injury and continue in the same vein.
Virat Kohli (C)
Virat Kohli. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
The Indian skipper has been hitting the ball well. However, he had an indifferent World Cup. He scored five successive half-centuries but it was pretty unusual to see him not convert even one of those into a hundred. He scored 443 runs at an average of 55.37 in the showpiece event.
The last time he played a T20I in India colours was against Australia in February earlier this year. He was hitting the ball well and there was a different Virat Kohli that was seen. He was a lot more attacking and was pretty successful. The Indian skipper carried that forward in the IPL where he did well too. The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) skipper scored two half-centuries and one hundred while amassing 464 runs. He did blow a little hot and cold but he was still RCB’s best batsman.
Moreover, Kohli is a fabulous T20I batsman. He has scored 20 half-centuries which is most in T20Is. Hence, as always, Kohli will be absolutely key at No. 3 for the ‘Men in Blue’.
Shreyas Iyer of India. (Photo by Richard Huggard/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Shreyas Iyer has been one of the consistent performers in Indian domestic cricket. He has consistently churned out runs for Mumbai and India ‘A’. In fact, Iyer was one of the contenders for India’s coveted No. 4 spot but he didn’t get a longer rope.
He has done well in the IPL this year. The decision to hand over the Delhi Capitals leadership has worked really well. He seems to have matured a lot more and has guided his team home on multiple occasions this year. The Mumbaikar aggregated 463 runs in the tournament where he led the Delhi side to the playoffs.
Iyer then continued that form with the India ‘A’ side in the Caribbean. He averaged 62.33 in the 50-over format during that series. Thus, Iyer has been rewarded with a place in the national side on the back of some consistent performances. He now has the chance to seal a berth in that wobbling Indian middle order.
Rishabh Pant (WK)
Rishabh Pant. (photo by Alan Martin/Action Plus via Getty Images)
For quite some time now, Rishabh Pant has been touted as India’s first-choice wicketkeeper across formats. He has done that on and off in white-ball cricket but hasn’t really cemented his place. However, with MS Dhoni unavailable for this tour, Pant now has the chance to seal the deal.
Moreover, he has been striking the ball really well for quite some time now. The Delhi wicketkeeper-batsman has had a couple of excellent IPL seasons. He has scored over 1000 runs in the last two IPLs and has transitioned well from the domestic and IPL set up to the international arena. Pant was flown in as Shikhar Dhawan’s replacement in the recently concluded World Cup.
He played four games in the tournament and got good starts in three of them. His shot selection led to his downfall more often than not. Hence, he will be hoping to rectify that and play a crucial role as India try to beat the defending World T20 champions.
Ravindra Jadeja. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Ravindra Jadeja almost became India’s hero in that heart-breaking World Cup semi-final against New Zealand. He seemed to be in blazing form with the bat and was excellent with the ball. His effort and brilliance in the field was second to none. Despite not being in the XI, he had the maximum impact.
However, he played just two games in the entire tournament as India preferred to go in with the two wrist-spinners. He may well find himself batting at No. 6 in the T20I series against West Indies as India try to build towards the World T20 next year. Jadeja’s ability with the ball is no secret and his utility with the bat is often underused. India have often played him down the order and under-utilised him.
He was in good form in the IPL as well. Moreover, the last time Jadeja featured in a T20I for India, it was against the Windies at Kingston in 2017 before he was axed from the white-ball sides. Thus, it will be a comeback of sorts for the left-handed all-rounder in the shortest format.
Krunal Pandya. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Krunal Pandya has been a regular member of the Indian T20 side now. He made his debut in November last year and has featured in each and every T20I that the ‘Men in Blue’ have played. The elder Pandya may have been a tad expensive but has picked up 11 wickets in as many games. He hasn’t really got a lot of opportunities with the bat so far.
Moreover, Pandya has done well in the recent past. He has picked up seven wickets from three games for India ‘A’ in the recently concluded series against West Indies ‘A’. He averaged just 12.85 with the ball and had an economy of 3.75 in that series. His form with the bat has been up and down for a while.
Also, the left-hander played an important role in Mumbai Indians’ title-winning season earlier this year. He chipped in really well with the ball. Thus, with his brother Hardik Pandya rested, Krunal has the opportunity to once again make a mark.
Rahul Chahar. (Photo: Surjeet Yadav/IANS)
The 19-year-old leg-spinner has received his maiden India call-up. This has come on the back of some really good performances in the IPL and India ‘A’. Rahul Chahar has come up the ranks pretty quickly and has impressed a lot of people.
In his debut IPL season, he was Mumbai Indians’ frontline spinner. He took 13 wickets in as many games at an economy of 6.55. He travelled to the Caribbean with the India ‘A’ side and did well there too. The leg-spinner from Rajasthan picked up six wickets in three games in that series.
Despite some very good performances, Chahar had missed the bus for the Under-19 World Cup last year. However, he got back to the drawing board and came back stronger. He can turn the ball both ways, he isn’t afraid to toss the ball up and loves a challenge. Thus, with India’s frontline wrist-spinners rested from the T20Is, Chahar will most likely get a chance to make a debut and make an impact.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar. (Photo Source: Getty Images)
Bhuvneshwar Kumar looked in decent rhythm in the World Cup. However, he was hit by a hamstring injury midway through which saw him miss a few games. But the pacer came back strong and did finish the tournament with 10 wickets from six games.
However, there were times he looked off colour, just like the IPL. Bhuvneshwar wasn’t at his best in the IPL this year and struggled for rhythm as well. Though he seems to be back bowling at his best. In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, he will be the pace spearhead.
In fact, he is India’s most experienced bowler in the squad with others barely having any international experience. Thus, the Meerut pacer will be looking to lead India’s attack in the limited-overs leg of this tour.
Khaleel Ahmed. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Khaleel Ahmed has been in and around the Indian white-ball setup for almost a year now. He made his international debut in the Asia Cup last year and impressed quite a bit. In fact, he was in contention for the third seamer’s slot ahead of this World Cup. However, with the emergence of Mohammed Shami, he missed the cut.
But Khaleel went back and started stringing in notable performances. In the IPL this year, he finished as Sunrisers Hyderabad’s leading wicket-taker. He took 19 wickets in just nine games and was always there when his team needed a wicket. The Rajasthan pacer continued his good form and produced some excellent performances for India ‘A’ in the Caribbean. He picked up nine wickets at an average of 17.33.
Thus, this is another lease of life Khaleel has got in the Indian white-ball side. With Jasprit Bumrah rested, he will get more opportunities in the T20I and also the ODI series. Hence, this is the time for him to cement a place in this squad.
Navdeep Saini. (Photo Source: Twitter)
The name Navdeep Saini is doing the rounds in the Indian cricketing circles in the recent past. The 25-year-old Delhi fast bowler’s ability to crank up high speeds and hit the bat hard has stood out. He has been performing well in domestic cricket as well.
Saini was a part of the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) setup for this year’s IPL. He may have picked up just 11 wickets from 13 games but his temperament and quality was very impressive. In fact, he was India’s standby pacer as well for the World Cup and travelled with the team as cover and net bowler towards the latter half when Bhuvneshwar Kumar was injured.
Hence, this call-up was an expected one. The Delhi pacer has been in good form as well. He has taken eight wickets in four games for India ‘A’ in the recently concluded series against West Indies ‘A’. Thus, Saini will most likely make his international debut in the Caribbean.
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