India’s planning for T20 World Cup this year in Australia and the 50-over ODI World Cup in India next October has to start from the West Indies series, which begins in Ahmedabad on February 6.
India have roughly nine months to get their best 15 players sorted before the T20 World Cup begins in Australia, where they incidentally play their first match against Pakistan in Melbourne on October 23. India will get a minimum of 15 T20 games before the T20 World Cup and, in these games, captain Rohit Sharma will have to identify the right combination, which will work in Australian conditions.
India’s biggest issue in the last T20 World Cup in UAE was when the top-order failed, the middle order batters did not put their hands up to bail the team out. In fact, this has been the problem for Team India since the 2016 T20 World Cup. If the top three performed, India more often than not would win the game, and if they failed they would falter.
India’s other big concern is to identify an all-rounder who can bowl four tight overs and also score some quick runs. India had Hardik Pandya till an injury stuck him and since then he has looked totally off colour not only for India but for Mumbai Indians too. Shardul Thakur is definitely a better bowler with enough experience, it’s a matter of giving him the opportunity and backing him as an all-rounder to boost his confidence.
Similarly, Deepak Chahar looks good but lacks experience, but can also be considered for the role. When it comes to fast bowlers, India need the right support for Jasprit Bumrah, who has always been every captains go-to man. Mohammed Siraj can be handy in Australian conditions and if left-arm pacer T. Natarajan can get fit and get enough practice, he adds variety to the attach and who can also bowl well in the death overs. The biggest issue is to pick one good spinner, who can prove handy in Australian conditions. Yuzvendra Chahal did not have a good South Africa tour and will have to get his confidence back as leg-spinners are match winners. Washington Sundar is a good T20 bowler who can bowl tight overs during powerplay and is also handy with the bat.
Impatient wait for secont title
Ravindra Jadeja would be definitely playing as he has got enough experience and is very handy with the bat and fielding, so if India have to play just one spinner it would be for sure Jadeja. But India do not have enough time and with new captain Rohit and coach Rahul Dravid will have to be on their toes and can’t leave any stone unturned.
It’s been a long time India won the inaugural World Cup in 2007 and after that the closest the Men in Blue came was in 2014 when they lost to eventual champions Sri Lanka in Dhaka. The Indian Premier League (IPL) started in 2008 immediately after India’s win in 2007, but still India are yet to get their second title, leaving the fans wait impatiently.
Similarly, India have 18 months to build their ODI squad, which has come close in 2015 and 2019 but were knocked out in the semi-finals. And this time it’s happening in India where they last won it in 2011 under Mahendra Singh Dhoni. India won’t get a better opportunity to get their third title as they know the conditions well, but the preparations have to start with the West Indies series. There has to be a vision and as the saying goes “leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality” and Rohit will have to have that clear vision.