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India's Shreyas Iyer (left) walks back after being stumped by Devon Thomas (right) off left-arm spinner Akeal Jerome Hosein during the third Twenty20 against West Indies. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: After a dismal performance in last year’s T20 World Cup played in UAE, India have played 21 T20 games and it seems like the captain and the selectors are still not sure about the first-choice 15 players for this year’s showpiece starting in Australia in two month’s time. It was just not the number of international T20 matches India have played, one has also need to take the bumper Indian Premier League (IPL) in consideration, which had 10 teams this time playing a total of 74 matches.

Despite the number of games played, the selectors are not sure and still trying out players who have no chance to make the squad. For instance, Shreyas Iyer, who has been struggling for form since the end of the West Indies series in February, has been still tried to see if he can regain his touch, but sadly has been struggling in the current T20 series against the West Indies.

Special talent

Sanju Samson, who was backed publicly by Indian skipper Rohit Sharma saying that he is a special talent and would be handy on Australian bouncy pitches, has played just three games out of the 22, which is quite baffling. Similarly Ravichandran Ashwin, who had played two games against the Kiwis last year, has been brought in out of the blue and has played all the three T20 games so far against the West Indies. Yes he has done well in the current series, but is he your first-choice spinner or is he picked just because West Indies have many left-handers in their squad? Same goes for Avesh Khan, the fast bowler who have been tried in the West Indies series at the last moment to check if he can be good for selection.

This is absolutely mind-boggling as the T20 World Cup is just round the corner and those first-choice players should be given enough time to get ready for the World Cup, which has eluded India after winning the inaugural edition in South Africa. Since the last 15 years, every time the IPL happens, the talk is about the abundance of talent in India, but where is the first choice team that can land the country trophy to fill your cabinet?

Performance graph

One can’t justify by saying India has won almost every bilateral T20 series and can’t be judged on the basis of failure in the World Cup. Till 2012 World Cup India was an OK side in T20, but the Men in Blue were always favourites going into World Cup from 2014, where they were runners-up. In 2016, India lost in the semi-finals and in 2020 India failed to even make the semi-finals. It only shows that India’s performance graph has been on the decline. Yes, T20 is a unpredictable format and you can have a bad day on the field, but it’s high time India stopped giving this as a reason for getting knocked out of the World Cup. It’s also time they have a plan B should they lose the toss in knockout game or plan C to cope with a top order collapse or plan D to handle the left-arm pacers.

This can only happen if there is clarity of mind in the selected players with the captain having the faith and confidence in them that they will put their hands up when the chips are down.

— Cricket enthusiast Anis Sajan is the Vice-Chairman of Danube Group