Indian T20I team: With a looming ICC T20 World Cup, India need to fix the chink in their armour in a bid to not repeat history.
India are the second-ranked T20I team in the ICC Rankings. They haven’t lost a T20I series since March 2019 – winning seven and drawing one series in this period. Most recently, they came back from behind to defeat the No. 1 ranked England (3-2) in a five-match series. In the same period, two of their batsmen are among the top-five run-scorers in the format.
Despite doing exceedingly well of late, the Indian T20I team hasn’t given the impression of being a team which has done that well. Agreed that experimenting was given a lot of preference but mere experimenting without zeroing in on a combination is uncalled-for with a looming ICC T20 World Cup.
Before the start of the England series, it appeared as if India only had a middle-order spot to fix. After the series has finished, India’s opening pair is also under the spotlight.
Before the series, Rohit Sharma and Lokesh Rahul were officially announced as India’s first-choice opening batsmen. After the series has finished, Sharma and Virat Kohli seem to have become the front-runners only to contradict an official statement from captain Kohli. The middle-order conundrum, on the other hand, continues to be unsolved.
Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma walking to the middle together to open is feels! 😍🇮🇳🏴#INDvENG
— Chloe-Amanda Bailey (@ChloeAmandaB) March 20, 2021
Why Indian T20I team should put a stop to experimentation and set sights on an enduring XI
The biggest concern around India’s build-up to the World Cup is that this script is not novel. It was only a couple of years ago when India continued to remain unsure about a middle-order spot ahead of a world event.
Not knowing when they will be playing their next T20I, India should have used the recently concluded series to not just experiment but also finalize their batting lineup for there is nothing wrong in learning from past mistakes.
Take the recent example of Shreyas Iyer. Having scored 250 runs in eight innings since his debut at No. 4 at an average and strike rate of 50 and 151.51 respectively, Iyer was demoted to No. 6 to accommodate wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant (who now has 252 runs in 14 innings at No. 4 at 19.38 and 130.56).
Despite batting at an unusual batting number, Iyer finished the series as India’s second-highest run-scorer with his 121 runs coming at 40.33 and 145.78. Just imagine Iyer’s fate had he not returned with these numbers while batting at No. 6. India, who surely face a problem of plenty, haven’t helped themselves by making such changes. Needing to deter themselves from fixing something which isn’t broken, India should swap Pant and Iyer to make amends, for starters.
Subsequently, Kohli and the team management should also put a stop to experimentation and set their sights on an enduring XI. Flexibility and all sounds cool and can work wonders occasionally but it shouldn’t result in changing combinations every second match. If they consider Sharma and Kohli as their top openers, so be it. Stick with the pair at the top without making changes in the next match in the name of giving opportunities to others. A few months before a World Cup is generally not an ideal time to present opportunities.