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With Bhuvi out of T20I mix, no India bowler features in Top 20 ICC Rankings; End of road for him?

With Bhuvneshwar Kumar out of T20I mix, no India bowler features in Top 20 ICC Rankings; End of road for him? India's T20I squad analysis against New Zealand starting from January 27.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar was sidelined from India's T20Is squad against New Zealand (Images ©BCCI/Twitter)
Bhuvi was sidelined from India's T20Is squad against New Zealand (Images ©BCCI/Twitter)

Hardik Pandya will lead India in the three-match T20I series against New Zealand heralding a young squad with quite a few notable exclusions and some new inclusions.

India’s T20I squad for New Zealand series

Hardik Pandya (captain), Suryakumar Yadav (vice-captain), Ishan Kishan (wk), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Deepak Hooda, Rahul Tripathi, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik, Shivam Mavi, Prithvi Shaw, Mukesh Kumar

India T20Is Squad Analysis

India vs SA, 3rd T20I, 2022, Top Performances_ Harshal Patel takes 4-25 and helps India beat South Africa in 3rd T20I _ Walking Wicket (Images ©BCCI/Twitter)
Harshal didn't get a place in India T20I squad against NZ (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

Is it the end of the road for Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Harshal Patel?

Harshal Patel whose economy was on the higher side in the recent T20I games doesn’t find a mention in the squad. The medium pacer featured in just one out of three T20Is that India played against Sri Lanka at home and had a forgettable outing. His returns in the year 2022 weren’t great either (23 wickets in 22 games at an ER of 9.31). So, Harshal’s exclusion leaves a question mark on his future as he is just a one format bowler unlike others.

The same goes for Bhuvneshwar Kumar who has been overlooked for both of India’s home T20I series in 2023. Though he is one of the best powerplay phase bowlers and had a decent time in T20 World Cup 2022 (4 wickets at an ER of 6.16), one gets a feel that the selectors are slowly moving away from the veteran.

They have picked youngsters like Shivam Mavi who played against Sri Lanka and the uncapped Mukesh Kumar. Pace sensation Umran Malik is also in the mix. This leaves the experienced T20 exponents Bhuvneshwar and Harshal in a tough spot, as both don’t play any other format and it leaves resting out of the equation. This only means that the team management wants to look beyond these two medium pacers as the next T20 World Cup is a long way off and give a long rope to the young crop of bowlers like Mavi who impressed on debut where he picked 4 wickets, and Umran.

The only way Harshal and Bhuvi could expect to make a comeback now is through some stellar outings in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023.

No bowler in the squad in Top 20 of ICC Rankings

With Bhuvneshwar’s absence in the T20I squad for the home series against New Zealand, there is no one among those picked in the top-20 of the ICC T20I rankings for bowlers. Bhuvneshwar is currently ranked 18, and the next best is Arshdeep Singh who is at the 21st place and Yuzuvendra Chahal at the 41st place.

This makes for grim reading as to how India bowling look in T20Is, a format in which they won the inaugural World Cup, and where they have a win/loss ratio of 2.016 which is head and shoulders above the rest of ICC's full-member nations.

Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli against not included in T20I squad (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)
Rohit and Virat have not played a single T20I since T20 WC (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

No Rohit, Kohli and Rahul in the T20I team

India’s team management continues to experiment with a young team as far as the T20I squad goes. With Hardik Pandya at the helm for the three-match T20I series against New Zealand, India will be once again without the services of stalwarts like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli or KL Rahul.

Though Rohit stressed on the fact he is yet to take a decision on his T20I future, the trio don’t feature in the team for now. While Rahul has been granted personal leave for his marriage, according to head coach Rahul Dravid, skipper Rohit and former captain Virat have been rested from T20Is as the team management wants them to shift focus on the 50-overs format ahead of the upcoming World Cup.

Also, the duo’s batting record in the shortest format is second to none. Afterall, Virat Kohli is the leading run-scorer in T20I history (4008 runs at a batting average of 52.73 and strike rate of 137.96) and Rohit Sharma, the second-highest with 3853 runs. Virat had a sensational Asia Cup 2022 and T20 World Cup 2022 (averages of 92 and 98, respectively). So, all these factors give us an indication that the trio’s absence from T20Is is just temporary and they still have a lot to offer in 20-overs cricket for India.

Suryakumar Yadav, the world’s number 1 T20I batter remains the vice-captain to Hardik, and it is great to see the likes of Rahul Tripathi, Shivam Mavi and uncapped pacer Mukesh Kumar retaining their places in the side.

Though they have not made many changes to the team that won the three-match T20I series against Sri Lanka in the beginning of the year, there are a couple of welcome additions to the team.

Prithvi Shaw added to India's T20I squad against New Zealand (Images ©BCCI_IPL)
Prithvi Shaw added to India's T20I squad against New Zealand (Images: ©BCCI/IPL)

Prithvi Shaw makes a return to the side

The 23-year-old Mumbai batter has been overlooked since playing for India last in 2021. However, his recent exploits in Ranji Trophy 2022-23 for Mumbai where he amassed a humongous 379 off 383 balls (the 2nd highest score in Ranji history) against Assam, made sure he warranted a place in the squad. One may argue that based on red-ball form Prithvi Shaw got a chance in the T20I side, but he was the 2nd highest run scorer in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2022-23 with 332 runs at an astounding strike rate of 181.42 from 10 innings. While it is uncertain whether Shaw would get to partner Ishan Kishan ahead of the red-hot Shubman Gill or Ruturaj Gaikwad in the team, it is really great to see him back in the mix.

The same thing goes for Jitesh Sharma, the Maharashtra-born wicketkeeper. The 29-year-old keeper batter was added as a late replacement for Sanju Samson in the Sri Lanka series, but now has been retained as the second keeper after Ishan Kishan. He is a lower-order batter who can strike from the word go and has an impressive record in the T20 domestic circuit. Jitesh strikes at 147.93 and averages just over 30 in the 71 T20 innings he has played for Maharashtra and in the IPL for Punjab Kings.

Rahul Tripathi might very well retain his number 3 slot after a good showing in the Sri Lanka series (made 35 off 16 in the 3rd T20I) and his consistent performances in the domestic circuit including the IPL (413 runs at strike rate of 158 in the 2022 season).

India play the three T20Is against New Zealand in Ranchi, Lucknow and Ahmedabad on January 27, January 29 and February 1, respectively.


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