India prepares for T20 World Cup: Selection Policy

Shashank Kishore, in ESPNcricifo, 13 August 2022, where the title readsExperiments and role clarity bring new answers to India’s T20 questions

Rohit and Dravid have used the glut of T20Is this year to add depth to India’s stocks ahead of the World Cup. The 21 T20 internationals India have played so far in 2022 are the most by any team. Managing workloads across formats has led to them fielding 27 players in the T20Is – the most by any team this year. In the recent five-match series in West Indies alone, 17 players were given an opportunity.

Suryakumar Yadav was a success as an opener in the T20Is in the CaribbeanAFP/Getty Images

Now, with the Asia Cup approaching, the mixing and matching is likely to taper off, as India look to give their first XI a decent run of games in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup in Australia this October.
But in these last few months, the team management led by head coach Rahul Dravid has used the multitude of games to try players out in different roles – to flex their flexibility. There have been multiple captains too – from Rohit Sharma to Hardik Pandya to Rishabh Pant – but India have not wavered from their new aggressive approach. And because of the changing personnel, the team management has placed strong emphasis on clarity of communication.

“India’s new normal – a stream of players, captains by rotation

“We made it very clear after the T20 World Cup in Dubai where we didn’t qualify that there needs to be a change in attitude and approach to how we play,” Rohit Sharma told Star Sports recently. “A clear message was given to the boys, and they were ready to accept the challenge … If the messages are clear from the captain and coach and where the team is trying to head, individuals will try and do it. For that, they need freedom and clarity, which we’re trying to give.”
So as India have gone about transforming their T20 game in the last few months, here are some key discoveries they have made along the way.
Suryakumar Yadav and Rishabh Pant are two of seven openers India have used this year. Pant was given a run at the top during the T20Is in England last month, and Suryakumar opened in the recent series against West Indies. While the decision to open with them was largely meant to give Pant and Suryakumar more time in the middle, it has led to India creating more space and depth in their 15-man squad for the Asia Cup, and possibly the T20 World Cup.
Both Suryakumar and Pant could serve as back-up opening options should the need arise to find a replacement for Rohit or KL Rahul, who hasn’t played any matches since the IPL ended. In four innings as opener, Suryakumar made 135 runs at a strike rate of 168.75. His best was a 44-ball 76 in St Kitts. Pant, meanwhile, is the only left-hand option in the top six.
Having two middle-order batters who can open may have led to Deepak Hooda‘s inclusion in the Asia Cup squad ahead of Ishan Kishan, who had earlier been tried as reserve opener. And Hooda offers India plenty of flexibility in the batting order. In seven T20Is so far, he’s scored 274 runs at a strike rate of 161, batting at various positions from No. 1 to 7. Hooda also brings his offspin to India’s bowling attack.
Like Hooda, Hardik’s return from injury has also given India plenty of flexibility. He has batted at every position from No. 3 to No. 7 over the past two months, and can play the role of finisher if the team management decides to pick Pant over Dinesh Karthik in the XI.
What they said
“We want the guys to be able to bat anywhere and don’t want them to be batting in specific positions. We want the guys to be flexible, there are two ways to look at it depending on certain players.”
Rohit on what he expects from his batters

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