Team India have started their preparations for the T20 World Cup 2021 to be played at home in October-November. The Virat Kohli led side have strengthened their squad with some fine changes in recent times and will be one of the strong contenders to reclaim the T20 World Cup trophy.
India haven’t won the T20 World Cup since the tournament’s inaugural edition back in 2007 in South Africa. The team then overcame massive odds to lift the coveted title and triggered a revolution for T20 cricket.
This year, Kohli’s team have a fantastic chance to repeat that success in home conditions. They certainly have the depth of talent within the set-up to rewrite history. While the current squad is certainly one with a strong outlook, those outside it are also some fine T20 cricketers who could easily make any other team in the world.
Today, our focus will be on the latter category; players who could still come into the squad and help India lift the T20 World Cup title.
1. Ravichandran Ashwin
When asked whether Ashwin can make a comeback to India’s T20I squad, India skipper Kohli said he and Washington Sundar being “similar” options makes it difficult to reopen the door for Ashwin. The merits of that statement are still up for debate, as Ashwin remains one of the best T20 spinners in the world.
Ashwin was dropped from India’s T20I side back in 2017. At a time, his record in the shortest format for India was fantastic: an economy rate of just 6.98 across 46 games with 52 wickets. Ashwin hadn’t done anything really wrong to deserve an ouster from the side but it seems the mixing-up of the formats led to his departure from both ODIs and T20Is.
In the IPL since then, Ashwin has been one of the most dependable spinners around. His economy rates for the last seasons – 7.27 (2019) and 7.66 (2020) – vindicate how good he has been. It would only be wise for the selectors to keep him in mind when they go about finalising India’s T20 World Cup squad.
2. Dinesh Karthik
Karthik may have never really become the player India thought he will in Tests and ODIs but in T20 cricket he remains a force to be reckoned with. Many still feel the wicketkeeper-batsman should’ve been retained in India’s T20I side rather than be discarded across formats after the 2019 World Cup in the UK.
Karthik struggled to get going in IPL 2020 in UAE but at his best, the 35-year-old could certainly be a handful in the middle-order for India. Karthik made runs at a strike-rate of 146.24 in IPL 2019 while maintaining a respectable average of 31.62. In the season previous to that, he performed even better, averaging 49.80 with a strike-rate of 147.77.
3. Sanju Samson
When India encouraged the mighty talented Samson in their T20I side last year, it seemed this is the vote of confidence that will bring the best out of him. Samson was given the role of an aggressor both at the top and in the middle-order and he performed it selflessly.
The youngster compromised his consistency for the team’s sake and went on the attack from ball one. With time, given his ability, the execution of intent was also expected to only improve. However, a couple of low scores in Australia later, he was dropped for the series against England. The selectors should’ve shown more faith in Samson and be more mindful of the role he was playing.
Samson could still comeback strongly in the side, of course, and will be eyeing consistent performances in the forthcoming edition of IPL for Rajasthan Royals (RR). He could be a danger man for opposition attacks in the T20 World Cup.
4. Prithvi Shaw
Prithvi Shaw’s stellar performances in the just concluded Vijay Hazare Trophy will certainly bring him under consideration for India’s T20I side in the future. Curiously, despite his explosiveness, the youngster has not yet got a look in for the shortest version.
Many feel, limited-overs cricket is where India are more likely to get the best out of Shaw and not Test matches, a format which he has played more regularly.
If Shaw can replicate his magnificent domestic in the IPL 2021 for Delhi Capitals (DC), the selectors and the management may be forced to reconsider the pecking order and give him a go-ahead for the T20 World Cup. He certainly has the range of strokes and elite intent to bolster the Indian T20I side.
5. Mohammed Siraj
T20 cricket hasn’t been Siraj’s strongest format. His record suggests the bowler has failed to put the breaks on rampaging batsmen: an economy rate of 9.08 after 35 IPL matches and three T20Is for India where he went for 12.33 runs per over.
However, Siraj seems to have taken his game to another level in recent times. He has been excellent in Test match cricket where he has shown admirable control and consistency.
While Siraj’s tendency to be expansive turns heads away from him, he could prove an impactful powerplay wicket-taker on good days for India. Siraj can swing and seam the white Kookaburra early in the innings and modern-day batsmen often find it difficult to negotiate movement upfront.
If any of India’s first-choice paceman isn’t available for the T20 World Cup, Siraj’s strengths, if used judiciously, make him a decent replacement.