India’s T20 batting conundrum – A good headache (Part I)

Virat Kohli vs Rohit Sharma: How do the two modern era ODI greats match  up?- The New Indian Express

Can Kohli And Rohit win it for India? 

Welcome to part I, where we will discuss India’s T20 batting lineup for the upcoming 2021 WT20. Disclaimer: These are my personal opinions. Feel free to drop your views in the comments section! 

India now has an unbeaten streak of 10 games heading into the final T20i against Australia. With the World Cup coming up next year in India, the hosts – alongside England – will be one of the firm favorites to lift the cup. A squad of 15 will most likely be announced with eight spots up for grab in the batting department.  

These are my eight players – 

1) Rohit Sharma 

2) KL Rahul (wk) 

3) Virat Kohli 

4) Shreyas Iyer 

5) Sanju Samson (backup wicketkeeper)

6) Hardik Pandya 

7) Shikhar Dhawan (backup opener)

8) Manish Pandey (backup middle-order batsman) 

In my opinion, there should be no debate around number 1, 2, or 3. Rohit Sharma, on his day, can tear apart any attack. KL Rahul has repeatedly performed in the IPL and T20 Internationals and easily deserves to be the first choice opener over Dhawan. And Virat Kohli is Virat Kohli. No debate. 

Much discussion is around the number 4 and number 5 position. What we need to take into perspective are the strengths and weaknesses of the top 3. Though Rohit is an excellent player of spin, we cannot expect him to score every game. Virat and KL are stroke players and score quickly against pace and sometimes get choked up against spin in the middle overs. Shreyas Iyer is undoubtedly one of the better players of spin and, during a partnership in the middle overs, can be the aggressor and take on the spin attack. Though he’s had a relatively quiet ODI series against Australia, Iyer had a good series against New Zealand and a great IPL stint with 519 runs from 16 games (4th on the table of highest run-getters). 

However, what I feel India is missing is an X-Factor player. Yes, you have Virat Kohli. You have Rohit Sharma. But, they are your bankable players, not X-Factor players. An X-Factor player should be a player who can walk in and can the dynamics of the game in 10 balls. Currently, there are only two players who can fulfill that role: Sanju Samson and Rishabh Pant. Despite many outstanding IPL performances, Pant has repeatedly failed to show consistency and has always found a way to get out in the ugliest manner. It’s time we move on and groom Sanju Samson, who too has the potential to change the momentum of the game with a few strikes. At number 6, it’s evident that we need an all-rounder who can finish the innings, and who better than Hardik Pandya? His Australia tour is just another example of why he’s India’s number one batting all-rounder. Once he regains his touch with the ball, I am sure he will the player to watch out for.

Since only 15 spots are available in the squad, players with flexibility and experience will be preferred. In my opinion, India should pick a backup opener in Shikhar Dhawan. His recent IPL stint was remarkable, but despite that, he should remain India’s backup opener. India will also need another batsman who can bat anywhere from number 3 to number 6. Manish Pandey, a player who continues to be deprived of opportunities, should fill up that spot despite his average IPL. His domestic T20 cricket performances and an average of 44 in T20is should give him the nod ahead of someone like Ishan Kishan or Suryakumar Yadav. 

Much talk has been about SKY, who has repeatedly been robbed of opportunities. However, I believe India should no longer experiment with the batting order and stick to the same squad. India has been known for the “chopping and changing.” The only way you can provide stability and confidence to a batting lineup is when you back them to do their respective roles.  

That is my batting lineup for India’s 2021 World Cup. What’s yours? Do let me know in the comments section!

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