Team India is set to begin their quest for the T20 World Cup against arch-rivals Pakistan in less than two weeks at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground. Before this crucial clash, the Men in Blue will play four warm-up games, two against Western Australia on October 10 and 13, and then play the hosts, Australia, on the 17th. Finally, their arch nemesis in ICC tournaments New Zealand, before the match against Pakistan takes place on October 23.
Rohit Sharma and Co. have already departed for Australia with a player less due to the injury to Jasprit Bumrah. The BCCI till now hasn’t announced any official replacement for Bumrah going into the tournament. However, India’s combination going into the showpiece event will have no surprises.
On that note, let’s look at the predicted 11 for India going into the T20 World Cup opener against arch-rivals Pakistan.
Openers: Rohit Sharma (Captain) and KL Rahul ( Vice-Captain)
This tournament will be Rohit Sharma’s first appearance as the captain of India in an ICC tournament. He has adopted a new template of going hard at the top of the order since the completion of the last World Cup, which can be seen from how he has been since last year. This year has scored 540 runs at a strike rate of 142.48 and is expected to play this way in the world cup.
Since returning from injury, KL Rahul has finally found some form, and all the concerns around his strike rate have been answered. He is seen batting at his fluent best, which is crucial for India at the top, given their new template. Since his comeback, he has already scored four 50s for the team in accordance with their needs.
Middle Order: Virat Kolhi, Suryakumar Yadav, Dinesh Karthik
Virat Kolhi, since his break, has just rediscovered his form and is back to what he does best for the team, i.e., providing consistency and solidarity. His form was a concern for the team earlier, given their attacking approach to playing but not anymore. Since Asia Cup 2022 in the UAE, the former India captain has already scored over 400 runs at a healthy strike rate.
Suryakumar Yadav, the man who can’t do any wrong in this format and India’s own Mr. 360, is one of the most improved players since the last World Cup and is going through a purple patch scoring 800+ runs at a strike rate of 184.56. The Men in Blue will be hoping that he continues this form of his through the course of this world cup so that they can lift the trophy once again.
The man who made a comeback to the team in a more specialized role of a finisher is essential for the team to finish strong in the last few overs. Dinesh Karthik is batting at a strike rate of 150.83 since his comeback and has given solid finishes and won a few games on his merit this year.
All-Rounders: Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel
Since regaining his full fitness, Hardik Pandya has just been seen winning games single-handedly for India and is contributing in all three facets of the game. He has been striking at 151.39 since coming back into the team and is expected to play with this same aggressive intent in the world cup. He provides the team with the necessary balance, i.e., the 6th bowler.
Ravindra Jadeja, who misses out on India’s T20 World Cup squad due to injury, has paved the way for a like-to-like replacement in Axar Patel, who, just like the former, contributes to all three departments. He has already picked up 18 wickets this year, and the bigger ground dimensions in Australia will favour this left-arm spin bowler.
Bowlers: Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, and Harshal Patel
Bhuvneshwar Kumar will now shoulder the responsibility of leading the bowling attack in the T20 World Cup in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah. He is lethal with the new bowl as he can swing the bowl both ways, creating problems for the batters at the top. He is India’s top wicket-taker in this format this year.
However, his death bowling is a concern, but these four games before the marquee clash will help him execute these skills much better.
After missing out on last year’s world cup, Yuzvendra Chahal has been included in this year’s. After missing out on the tournament last year, he has repeatedly proved his worth for India during the middle overs. He has already taken 21 wickets at an economy of 7.60 this year.
Arshdeep Singh and Harshal Patel will shoulder the pace bowling responsibilities with Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Even though the two have faced their ups and down this year, they have shown enough potential to be a part of this squad. Arshdeep and Harshal have taken 19 and 22 wickets, respectively.
Written by Kunsh Khanna