OCTOBER 12, 2021
India are bidding to end their 8-year-long wait for an ICC title when they take the field under Virat Kohli’s captaincy at the T20 World Cup 2021 in the UAE. The Asian giants last won a major title in 2013 and their last T20 World Cup title in the inaugural edition of the tournament.
Virat Kohli has confirmed that he will step down after the T20 World Cup as T20I captain. He has already given up IPL captaincy after Royal Challengers Bangalore were eliminated in the play-offs of IPL 2021. There will be a lot riding on the team as Kohli would want to sign off his T20I captaincy on a high.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) senior selection committee announced a 15-member squad that had some surprise inclusions and omissions. India also added 3 players in Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar and Shreyas Iyer as the back-up players.
The likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Yuzvendra Chahal were not picked, helping raise a few eyebrows.
Notably, MS Dhoni will be the mentor for the Virat Kohli-led team as the former captain, who won the World Cup in 2007, has been roped in for the honorary role.
Here is all that you need to know about India’s squad in the T20I format.
The India captain is under considerable pressure to win an ICC title as time is running out for the skipper. Kohli’s form in IPL 2021 is a good sign for India, considering the star player was struggling for consistency in the Test series in England.
It will be important Kohli steps up with the bat. The skipper has always delivered at the big stages and his 2016 T20 World Cup campaign in India is a testament to his prowess.
Kohli has played 90 T20Is, scoring 3159 runs at a staggering average of 52.65. Kohli’s record as T20I captain is also noteworthy — 27 wins in 45 matches.
Rohit Sharma is tipped to take over as India’s next T20I captain. The opener is crucial to India’s chances as his form will influence the team’s fortunes in the UAE.
Rohit, it seems, is determined to help India win an ICC title. The Mumbai Indians captain was part of the T20 Wlord Cup-winning squad, had said in a social media post last month that India are coming for the title that he think is theirs.
Rohit was in dream form in the 2019 World Cup, hitting a record-breaking tally of 5 hundreds. His experience as part of the leadership group will also come in handy.
Rohit has scored 2864 runs in 111 matches. The tally includes as many as 4 T20I hundreds.
KL Rahul is hard to ignore when picking a limited-overs squad for India. The opener, who returned to the Test scheme of things in England, had a dream run in IPL 2021, scoring 626 in 13 matches.
KL Rahul is likely to open the batting along with Rohit Sharma. While Rahul held himself back for Punjab Kings more often than not, expect the star batsman to play a more fluent role at the top in the World Cup.
Rahul has hit 1557 runs, including 2 hundreds, in 49 T20Is for India so far.
Ishan Kishan has been picked as a back-up opener for India at the T20 World Cup. The Mumbai Indians player was picked on the back of a dream run in IPL 2020 wherein he hit more than 500 runs in MI’s winning run. Ishan made his senior India debut only early this year and managed to impress.
However, the young wicketkeeper-batsman, who led India at the U-19 World Cup in 2016, struggled in IPL 2021 with Mumbai Indians. He managed just 241 runs in 10 matches and his place in the World Cup side was questioned after he was dropped from the side midway during the UAE leg of IPL.
However, Ishan stormed back to form hitting two back-to-back fifties, including a quickfire 84 against Sunrisers Hyderabad in MI’s final league game. He has played 3 T20Is so far, scoring 89 runs.
After waiting on the sidelines for a considerably long time, Suryakumar Yadav made his India debut earlier this year. He was gutted when he was not picked for the Australia tour last year despite a dream run with Mumbai Indians in the IPL.
Having scored loads of domestic runs, Suryakumar Yadav has evolved into a destructive player in the middle-order for India.
Like Kishan, Suryakumar also endured a difficult run in IPL 2021 before storming back to form towards the end of the season.
Suryakumar has played 4 T20Is and scored 139 runs, including 2 fifties.
One of the most improved players in the recent past, Rishabh Pant has been picked as India’s first-choice wicketkeeper-batsman. Pant was struggling to break into the side after a strong start to his career. IPL 2020 did not go his way despite Delhi Capitals making it to the final.
However, Pant turned it around with a dream run against Australia in Australia. Pant’s heroics with the bat helped India win a memorable Test series Down Under. The hero of the Gabba Test regained his India spot in all 3 formats following the tour of Australia and has been a regular since.
Pant was entrusted with the Delhi Capitals captaincy role for IPL 2021. He led the team to the play-offs as well.
Pant has played 33 T20Is and has hit 512 runs. He will be expected to don the finisher’s role in the T20 World Cup.
Hardik Pandya has been one of the finest finishers in world cricket. However, a recurring back injury has affected his progress in international cricket.
Hardik hasn’t been in the best of forms with the bat and there are more concerns about his bowling. Hardik did not bowl a single over for Mumbai Indians in IPL 2021 despite bowling for India during the limited-overs series against England earlier this year at home.
There were questions asked of Hardik’s place in the squad as a pure batsman, considering his inability to bowl in the recent past. However, the Mumbai star will play a key role as he can single-handedly demolish opposition attacks if he gets going in the UAE.
Hardik has played 49 T20Is and scored 484 runs. He has picked up 42 wickets as well.
Ravindra Jadeja is going to be India’s biggest thump card. While he was always highly-rated as a bowler, his batting at the death has improved by leaps and bounds in the recent past.
Be it batting for India in the lower-order or smashing it big for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, Jadeja is a proven finisher with the bat.
A lot has already spoken about Jadeja’s fielding skills and he is an asset for India at the T20 World Cup.
His numbers in T20I cricket don’t do justice to his skills — 50 T20Is, 217 runs and 39 wickets. The all-rounder will be keen on improving those numbers with impactful performances in the World Cup.
Ashwin was one of the few surprise picks in the T20 World Cup squad. He has been handed a recall after 4 years.. The off-spinner returns to the limited-overs set-up for the first time since 2017.
Ashwin has been a match-winner for India in Test cricket but the off-spinner has been picked for the World Cup based on his performances with the white-ball in the IPL.
Ashwin’s experience may come in handy for India at the World Cup on those sluggish UAE pitches but his form in IPL 2021 is a cause of concern.
Ashwin has played 46 T20Is and picked 52 wickets.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has fallen down the pecking order in Test cricket but he has been a consistent performer for India in limited-overs cricket.
Having been pegged back by recurring injury concerns in the recent past, Bhuvnehswar showcased he has still got it when he did extremely well with the ball against England earlier this year. The senior pacer had an inconsistent campaign with Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2021 but he will be expected to play a crucial role both with the new-ball and at the death.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has played 51 T20Is and has picked up 50 wickets.
Mohammed Shami has played only 12 T20Is for India but his absence from the shortest format of the game at the international level has been mainly due to workload management.
A highly evolved bowler in the Test format, Shami will be expected to share the lead role with Jasprit Bumrah in the pace unit. Having done well for Punjab Kings in the recent past in the IPL, Shami is a value addition to India’s squad.
In the absence of Deepak Chahar and Sharudl Thakur, Shami will be under a bit of pressure to deliver but his experience will come in handy.
Undoubtedly India’s most important player, Jasprit Bumrah has been one of the finest bowlers across all formats. He has been a match-winner for Mumbai Indians in the IPL over the years. Bumrah has delivered whenever he has got the opportunity in T20Is as well.
Bumrah’s ability to bowl near-perfect Yorkers will be a huge asset for Team India. He has evolved into a smart T20 bowler as well as he brings in those length balls and slower ones as his variations.
Bumrah has played 50 T20Is for India, picking up 59 wickets.
The Kolkata Knight Riders spinner might prove to be India’s biggest trump card at the T20 World Cup. The mystery spinner, who made his India debut in July 2021, has been one of the toughest bowlers to get away in the IPL in the recent past.
Varun has added control to his repertoire and proved to be a key bowler for Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2021. Many of the big names struggled to pick Varun and the KKR spinner 16 wickets in the first 15 matches of IPL 2021.
His economy rate of 6.40 tells how difficult it has been for opposition batsmen to deal with his mystery spin.
Rahul Chahar has been picked over Yuzvendra Chahal for the T20 World Cup. The leg-spinner was impressive against England earlier this year at home which also marked his return to the senior national side after his debut in 2019.
Rahul also played against Sri Lanka as he was preferred as the main leg-spinner after he shone in IPL 2020.
However, the UAE leg of IPL 2021 proved to be a difficult phase for Chahar in his nascent career. Questions were being asked of his place in the side as calls to include Chahal grew louder.
The leg-spinner will have a point to prove if he gets an opportunity in the playing XI.
Axar Patel has been in the T20 scene for quite some time but he has blossomed into an effective left-arm spinner in the shortest format of the game during his stint with Delhi Capitals. Axar’s ability to bowl with the new ball and pick up wickets regularly will hold him in good stead.
Axar might not start, considering there is the more fancied left-arm spinner in Ravindra Jadeja. But his performances in the UAE for Delhi will make hard to ignore.
Axar has played only 12 T20Is but he has the experience of 163 T20 matches under his belt.
India squad for T20 World Cup 2021
Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma (Vice Captain), KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Rahul Chahar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Varun Chakravarthy, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami.
Shreyas Iyer, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar.