Dasher, finisher, death bowler and more: Missing pieces of the Indian T20I jigsaw
India's T20I form, before the Bangladesh win, was not great. The team suffered a 2-0 loss against Australia at home and then lost 2-1 against New Zealand while touring.
After winning the T20I series against West Indies 3-0, when they were expected to comfortably get over relatively weaker opponents in South Africa, all they could manage was to level the series 1-1. The team did not have a great start against Bangladesh but managed to win the closely-contested series, courtesy of a late turnaround.
It has hardly been four months since the conclusion of the 2019 ODI World Cup and already we have seen all sorts of experiments in the Indian T20I team. While skipper Virat Kohli reckons that the team should bat till 9 or 10, coach Ravi Shastri believes that not many players in the ODI team warrant a spot in the T20I team.
Amid all the chopping, changing and the cloud of uncertainty, the team has not been able to head in the direction of finalising its personnel and is carrying gaping holes in its squad, the biggest of which are highlighted below:
A dasher amiss in the top three
India's regular top three Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli, have all made a name for themselves in the international circuit but are off the mark when it comes to their scoring rate in T20Is. Rohit strikes at 136.67 in T20Is, Kohli at 135.28 and Dhawan's numbers are poorer at 128.67.
Their numbers in 2019 have only worsened. Stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma has struck at 122.85 this year while Virat Kohli has a strike rate of 129.2. Shikhar Dhawan's strike rate in 2019 slides to a poor 109.35.
This is way behind the leading teams who have their top three going great guns. Australian captain Aaron Finch has a T20I strike rate of 157.30, with his partner in crime David Warner striking at 140.62. England's Jason Roy strikes at 145.11. New Zealand's Colin Munro has a strike rate of 159.82. For Windies, openers Evin Lewis and Chris Gayle have T20I strike rates of 159.35 and 142.84 respectively.
Who's the finisher?
Who is India's T20I finisher in the absence of Hardik Pandya? Rishabh Pant seems to be the player but he hardly sticks around long enough for him to give the inning a finishing touch.
Krunal Pandya and Washington Sundar have thrown their bat around on a couple of occasions but they cannot be a long term solution. Dinesh Karthik was another option who had done extremely well for India in the past, especially in T20Is, but was thrown under the bus after the World Cup debacle.
One reason for the team not being able to push their scoring rate in the last few matches is that their top order has not fired consistently. When it does, obviously the scene is different but when the team loses 2-3 wickets early, the batsmen go on the back foot, knowing that despite having a long batting line-up, possibly they do not have the power to take it through.
Shivam Dube has been given a chance on the basis of his reputation in domestic T20 competitions but he still has to prove himself at the highest level.
Death bowling troubles
"It were the bowlers who won us the game," stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma said after Deepak Chahar's hat-trick that helped India win both the 3rd T20I and the series against Bangladesh. However, it's also a reality that it is not often that a bowler wins it for India in T20Is.
With India's premier death bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar out injured, India are struggling to find that bowler who can stem the flow of runs towards the end of the innings. Khaleel Ahmed, for all his talent and opportunities he has been given, has not delivered and India will need to look elsewhere.
Deepak Chahar has showed a lot of maturity in the last few matches and has all the variations like a decent bumper, slower bouncer, knuckle ball, cutters and yorker needed for a good death bowler but he is still searching for a partner.
Looking at the best economy rates in IPL 2019 there is nothing much to look at with Ishant Sharma and Navdeep Saini being the other options. Khaleel Ahmed and Siddharth Kaul also feature in the list but the two have been given chances and have failed to impress. Is it time to go back to Mohammed Shami then?
*Stats as of November 5, 2019
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