After significant controversies encircling the series against Bangladesh, the Tigers have finally arrived and will take the field to play against the Indian team. The first of the three-match T20I series begins in Delhi at the Arun Jaitely Stadium on Sunday with a focus on the World T20 the following year Down Under.
The Indian think-tank saw the limited-overs leg against Bangladesh as an opportunity to blood some new faces, resting their front-line players from the squad. Notable omissions include Virat Kohli, who was given a rest from this series and MS Dhoni, who continues to be unavailable for selection after the 2019 World Cup.
Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya continue to recover from their respective injuries. Hence, this very series could be an excellent chance for the newbies to make a mark against a vulnerable Bangladeshi side and for the Indian team to form a building block for a formidable T20 setup going into the next year.
We take a look at the predicted XI for team India for the first T20 international:
Openers (Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan)
The opening set needs no tinkering with as of now. The duo of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan holds the record for the highest overall partnership runs by a pair. Stand-in captain Rohit Sharma has been in the form of his life. After earning the man of the series award in the Test series against South Africa, he will be back to the format of his forte.
However, going by the standards set by them with the bat, Sharma and Dhawan have endured a lean year in the format, averaging 26 and 20 respectively. Nevertheless, they remain the best bet to put the pressure early on the Bangladeshi bowlers.
Middle-order (KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant(wk))
Although an opening batsman, KL Rahul has been tried out even in India’s troubling middle-order. However, of late, he has tended to strain of late at the highest level. With a career strike rate of nearly 150, the 27-year old can counterattack at number three as well as can keep the scoreboard ticking through good running.
While Manish Pandey on his return to the T20 team against the West Indies didn’t have a successful outing, this series could be his final chance to prove his credentials. Since men are waiting in the wings, vying for the middle-order position, he needs to translate his domestic form in internationals.
Rishabh Pant has been under the scanner since long now. Gifted with an ability to strike the ball cleanly in any situation, the swashbuckling youngster has hardly made the most of his opportunities. His inability to assess the situation has got the better of him most times. With Sanju Samson fiercely knocking on the door, it is a make or break case for Pant with both the bat and the gloves.
All-rounders (Krunal Pandya and Shivam Dube)
Chief selector MSK Prasad justified the selection of Shivam Dube by claiming that he bats “aggressively and extremely well”. Such is the buzz around the 26-year old. He is well known as a hard-hitter, scoring heavily in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and against South Africa ‘A’. At number six along with Krunal Pandya, Dube would be the perfect man to launch an onslaught.
Dube’s medium pace bowling can also be used as a partnership breaker. Krunal Pandya needs no introduction. From being the vital cog of the Mumbai Indians line-up, Krunal has also proved his mettle in the internationals. His wicket-taking deliveries with left-arm spin and the athleticism on the field are added skill-sets along with his clean-hitting abilities.
Bowlers (Washington Sundar, Deepak Chahar, Khaleel Ahmed, Yuzvendra Chahal)
Washington Sundar perfectly fulfills the new trend of being a new-ball spinner. More than wickets, it is the ability to curb the run-flow that caught the eyes of the observer. Hence, his use in the powerplay overs can be very advantageous to the team. The 20-year old can also strike it clean and huge with the willow in hand.
Deepak Chahar’s meteoric rise to the Indian team came on the back of his performance in the IPL 2019 where he took 22 wickets. He was fast tracked in the Indian team as a result and the move paid dividends. With the new ball in hand, he has shown the ability to move the ball both ways, outsmarting the batsmen.
Khaleel Ahmed has had a topsy-turvy career so far; however, this series provides him with a platform to remain in contention for the World Cup next year. The left-arm pacer will most likely be the first change bowler for India.
Possessing a compelling T20I record, Yuzvendra Chahal will be the sole leg-spinner in this line-up. An attacking and a fearless leg-spinner, Chahal holds the record for the best bowling figures by an Indian in T20Is and the third-best in all T20 internationals. Along with Kuldeep Yadav, Chahal has formed a spin-bowling partnership that has proved effective in all conditions.
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