Indian selectors have their task cut out for them as they pick X1 for the T20 series against England starting March 12.
India needs to first get their opening pair sorted. Who will be Rohit Sharma’s opening partner? Shikhar Dhawan or KL Rahul? Dhawan’s strike rate is 128 as compared to Rahul’s 145. The T20 game has evolved a lot since its inception and today’s era demands you go all-out from ball one. Rahul can also play the role of wicket keeper, moreover his fitness is an added advantage against Dhawan.
Number 3 will be donned by Virat Kohli who will anchor the innings and will be the mainstay of India's batting; he can also modify his game according to the situation. Number 4 may be another tough call for Kohli; he could pick either Shreyas Iyer or Surya Kumar Yadav. Iyer has experience of playing for India and has a strike rate of 131 whereas Surya Kumar Yadav, who has been prolific for Mumbai Indians for many years, strikes the ball at a rate of 140.
Surya Kumar had been knocking at the door of the selectors for a long time, and as the saying goes," if your selectors are not opening the door, you break open the door ". Finally, Surya has made it past the door thanks to his consistent performance and by not giving up the hope of playing for India. He has the temperament to finish games well in pressure situations. Undoubtedly at number five would be the man in form Rishabh Pant, who had a great test series against England and would be raring to prove himself after being dropped in the T20 series against Australia last year. Number 6 position will be definitely reserved for Hardik Pandya, who looked commendable with the white ball series against Australia and who must be impatient to get back into Indian colors after not being considered for the test series. Since Ravindra Jadeja has been injured, Axar Patel walks in as like for like replacement at number 7 and he’d would like to carry his good form of test cricket in to the shortest format.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has been out of the Indian team, would come in, as he has huge experience playing the white ball format and in the absence of spearhead pacers Bumrah and Shami, he would be leader of the pace attack. T Natrajan, who had a sensational debut in the while ball format and who was also player of the series, looks most likely to be Bhuvi’s fast bowling partner. India will definitely play Washington Sundar who also had a good test outing. He can also bowl in the power play with good control. India's trump card will be Yuzvendra Chahal, the leggie, as third spinner who has a terrific record against England .The fight for the third fast bowler would be between Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur. We need to see if Kohli opts for his RCB team mate and speedster Saini or goes for Shardul who can also be handy with the bat.
The Indian selection panel should have their players sorted out before the T20 World Cup which is scheduled to happen in India in October. This series against the number one team who plays an aggressive brand of cricket would be an ideal preparation for the T20 World Cup.
The selectors and captain should back the players and give them confidence before the World Cup, which would be key to India winning the title that they have not won since the inaugural World Cup in 2007.