Padikkal Shaw
Devdutt Padikkal and Prithvi Shaw Image Credit: Gulf News archive

The T20 World Cup is on the cricketing horizon. In eight months, India will organise the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup after a change of hosts. Australia were to conduct it in 2020, but then the coronavirus intervened. So, the 2020 edition was delayed until 2021, and India offered to organise it. So, the original 2021 edition in India will now be hosted by Australia in 2022.

Confusing? I thought so. Simply put, India will now host the T20 World Cup in November 2021, and Australia will organise it in 2022. Leave everything else out.

Hitman Rohit Sharma’s back

All the T20 jousting between India and England has been largely to pick the squad for the World Cup. So don’t worry if Rohit Sharma is not selected for all the matches. He’ll be there in the World Cup squad. The Hitman has been kept out from the first two games to test openers to partner the Mumbai Indians’ captain in the World Cup. Makes sense.

The England matches provide Indian cricketers opportunities to stake their claim for a place in the squad. This is why Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav are in the team. The duo forced their way into the Indian squad on the strength of sterling shows that steered the Mumbai Indians to the Indian Premier League title in 2020. Yadav was unlucky to be dropped for the third match, despite not batting on his debut.

Prithvi Shaw and Devdutt Padikkal will remember the IPL in the UAE for different reasons. Shaw’s form was so abysmal that Delhi Capitals were forced to drop him, while Padikkal made a dream debut for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

More right clicks

Karnataka’s Padikkal carried the rich vein of form into the Vijay Hazare Trophy tournament and ended up as the second-highest run-getter behind Shaw. The young Shaw led Mumbai to victory in the 50-over tournament, scoring more than 800 runs. Suryakumar Yadav too weighed in well for Mumbai.

Shaw and Padikkal may have missed the berth for the England series, but surely their time will come. Kishan’s thrilling debut may be a setback to these aspirants. For, both are openers. India have Sharma and KL Rahul to open the innings. Then there’s Shikar Dhawan, another successful opener. Now, we have Kishan in the mix. Where does that leave Shaw and Padikkal? No slot, really. Don’t even think about the middle order. It’s crammed.

A lesson from Rishabh Pant

Padikkal and Shaw are young. They can wait for the right opportunity. Look at Rishabh Pant. He was the prodigy struggling for form in IPL 2020. The Test series in Australia changed his fortunes. Breathtaking knocks that won Tests in Australia and against England in India catapulted Pant to the India T20 squad. He’s a proven matchwinner. Padikkal and Shaw too will have to bide their time.

IPL 2021 in April and May will offer more opportunities for cricketers to catch the selectors’ eyes. But by the end of the England series, the selectors would have made up their minds. It would take an extraordinary string of scores to barge into the Indian team.

It’s still possible. After all, this is cricket, where uncertainties are glorious. So don’t write off Shaw and Padikkal.