Updated: Oct 23, 2022
ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022: BCCI announce Mohammed Shami as Jasprit Bumrah's replacement and add Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur to the T20 World Cup squad. A complete squad analysis of India ahead of first game against Pakistan.
Cricket fans, supporters and detractors alike, across the spectrum agree that Team India is one of the most formidable units in the modern age of the game. But it has been 9 years since India won an International Cricket Council (ICC) trophy; even as the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 kicks off on October 16, they are still one of the favourites going into the mega event in Australia.
Due to their poor performance last year, the inaugural champions had to take an early exit from the group stage of the 2021 T20 World Cup in United Arab Emirates (UAE). Even in the recently finished Asia Cup 2022, India were knocked out early after their back-to-back defeats at the hands of Sri Lanka and Pakistan in the Super Four stage.
Arshdeep, Harshal, Rahul, SKY present decent performances in practice games
One of the main issues that affected India in the last few tournaments has been not to get used to with the environment and the conditions. That was why this time India decided to fly to Australia almost two weeks before their first game in the World Cup. They played two practice games against the Western Australia XI side at the Western Australia Cricket Association (WACA) Ground in Perth.
In the first T20 practice game, India kept their nerves in a close win by 13 runs after making 158/6 in their 20 overs, as Suryakumar Yadav carried his form with yet another half-century in just 35 balls with the help of three boundaries and as many as sixes.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar too made a great comeback in the practice match with figures of 2/26 in four overs, while Arshdeep Singh bowling in the powerplay made life difficult for the batters with 3/6 in his three overs including a maiden. Yuzvendra Chahal who was thrown all around the park in the last few games showed his class with 2/15 in four overs.
However, India faced defeat by a healthy distance of 36 runs in the second practice game as they failed to chase 169. Harshal Patel who struggled in the home T20I leg against Australia and South Africa, recovered well with figures of 2/27 in his four overs while KL Rahul was the lone fighter in the batting unit with 74 runs in 55 balls that was arranged with nine boundaries and a couple of maximums. In the spin department, Ravichandran Ashwin was the standout performer with 3/32 in his four overs.
India defeated Australia in a warm-up game at the Gabba by 6 runs on October 17. KL Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav delivered the goods with fifties and Bhuvneshwar Kumar returned impressive figures of 2-20. However, it was the last over bowled by Mohammed Shami which saw the fall of four wickets, including three picked up by the bowler which eventually sealed the deal for India.
Let’s dissect India’s strengths and weakness going into the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022. It will be a real challenge for few players like Suryakumar Yadav, Arshdeep Singh and Harshal Patel who will play their first T20I in Australia.
Solid top order empowers India
Undoubtedly, India have a heavy top order batting line-up consisting of some big names like KL Rahul, captain Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant and many more. If anyone of them gets in his prime touch on any given day, then simply the bowling side will have an easier task on hand.
In the recently concluded Asia Cup 2022, Virat Kohli coming after a long break emerged as the second highest run-scorer of the tournament with 276 runs in just five innings at a strike rate of 147.59 that was arranged with 20 boundaries and 11 maximums. Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul too were in decent touch coming into this World Cup; the former made 74 runs at a strike rate of 172.09 in the home Australia series whereas Rahul deposited 108 runs at a strike rate of 128.57 in the home South Africa series.
Suryakumar Yadav who collected 139 runs in Asia Cup took his game to another level as he managed 115 runs in the three-match home T20I series against Australia at a strike rate of 185.48. If that wasn’t enough to elucidate his importance, he went a number of steps forward to acquire 119 runs in the three-match T20I home series against South Africa at a marvellous strike rate of 195.08.
Hardik Pandya, who smashed a match-winning 33*(17) in Asia Cup 2022 against Pakistan, too has been in red-hot form. Even though Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik didn’t get too many chances to bat, but whenever they faced those little few vital balls at the closing end of the innings, they notched up some valuable contributions.
With India’s bowling under a little bit of pressure in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, they need heavy scores from their top order to put a blanket on their weak zone.
Bumrah’s absence will hurt India; Mohammad Shami replaces Bumrah
If there is one player who will walk into India’s squad at any time in any format of the game, then he is none other than veteran pacer Jasprit Bumrah, someone who can bowl in any phase of the game against any opposition. But the news of Bumrah being ruled out for the entire upcoming World Cup has been a huge concern for captain Rohit Sharma and coach Rahul Dravid.
In his absence, India had two like-to-like replacements in the form of Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami. India finally zeroed in on the experienced Shami, who last played a T20I game back in July.
On the other hand, Siraj and Shardul Thakur have been added to the reserves as a back injury sustained by Deepak Chahar forced him out of the competition. However, Siraj has improved his skills in the last few series; the ability to take wickets at the start and nailing those yorkers or foxing the batters with the slower balls has been a real strength for him as he won the Player of the Series award in the recently concluded home One Day International (ODI) series against the Proteas.
The main problem for Mohammed Shami will be lack of proper game time under his belt; the way India have used him in recent times in T20Is since the last T20 World Cup spells out their planning regarding the pacer. Since making his debut in this format in 2014, Shami has featured in just 17 T20Is and eight of those came in T20 World Cups. Shami will of course draw confidence from the solitary match-winning over he bowled in the warm-up game against Australia where he picked up three wickets.
Jadeja’s injury has affected the all-rounders’ section
The first depressing news for the blue brigade came in the middle of Asia Cup 2022 when their in-form star all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was ruled out of the T20 World Cup due to a knee injury. In his absence, Hardik Pandya was left as the only proper all-rounder in the squad.
Undoubtedly, Hardik Pandya has done well in the last few months, but Jadeja’s presence with his experience playing on those big grounds could have been really valuable. Jadeja and Pandya’s match-winning 52-run stand in the second group match of Asia Cup 2022 carried India over the line against Pakistan.
Also because of Jadeja’s absence, India will go either with Axar Patel or Ravichandran Ashwin which in a way makes the team combination a little lighter.
Shallowness in the lower-order
Jadeja’s absence has not only affected the all-rounders’ section but has also compressed the batting line-up. In his presence, India could use him at number five or six which allowed Dinesh Karthik coming at number seven but in his and Bumrah’s absence, India are using an extra bowling option which means Karthik has been pulled one slot higher.
In several cases, India have been found struggling in the event of number 6 Karthik getting dismissed. This has also affected India’s top order which at times has been forced to change their approach to cover that tricky situation. Both Ashwin and Axar Patel have been used on a few occasions in that position, but one must come good if India plan to finish on a high note.
India’s updated T20 World Cup 2022 squad
Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (Vice-Captain), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Arshdeep Singh
Standby players: Shreyas Iyer, Ravi Bishnoi, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj
India will play their next warm-up game against New Zealand on October 19 at the Gabba in Brisbane, before they play their first game of the competition against arch-rivals Pakistan at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on October 23.
Rohit Sharma addresses media ahead of India vs Pakistan clash at Melbourne.