India's T20 World Cup XI after England series

For quite some time, I’ve been covering India’s preparations for the 2022 T20 World Cup for various outlets. This is a continuation of it.

After 9 T20Is under coach Rahul Dravid, this was my India depth chart heading into the IPL. (Read: The Rahul Dravid Reset – Part I on what India have learnt from Kohli-Shastri’s mistakes and Part II on how India are setting up for the World Cup, which includes Depth Charts 1 and 2)

Team India: T20 WC Depth Chart going into IPL
Playing XI First BackupSecond Backup
Rohit SharmaIshan Kishan Ruturaj Gaikwad
KL RahulIshan Kishan Ruturaj Gaikwad
Virat KohliShreyas IyerSanju Samson
Rishabh Pant (wk)Shreyas IyerDeepak Hooda
Hardik PandyaVenkatesh Iyer
Suryakumar YadavShreyas Iyer
Ravindra Jadeja Axar Patel
Harshal Patel
Bhuvneshwar KumarDeepak Chahar
Jasprit BumrahAvesh KhanMohammed Siraj
Yuzvendra ChahalRavi BishnoiKuldeep Yadav

The first squad selection following the IPL, for the series against South Africa, proved that I was mostly correct.

  • Hardik Pandya was immediately reintroduced into the starting lineup.
  • Rishabh Pant’s importance became clear when he was named captain following KL Rahul’s injury.
  • The bowling unit was identical to what I had before the IPL.

The IPL, however, clearly had an impact on some backup spots:

  • Arshdeep Singh took Mohammed Siraj’s place in the XI as the RCB pacer’s returns plummeted.
  • Deepak Chahar’s injury created an opportunity for Umran Malik.
  • Deepak Hooda’s impressive middle-order performances in the IPL helped him unseat Sanju Samson as the second middle-order backup

Dinesh Karthik was the only new addition who impacted the first XI. However, given his season with RCB and coach Rahul Dravid’s belief in having strong pace specialist lower middle-order options, it wasn’t surprising, even considering the Tamil Nadu batter’s age.

Team India: T20 WC Depth Chart Post SA series

The depth chart remained largely unchanged following the five-match T20I series, with one notable exception: Dinesh Karthik going a long way toward securing the No.6 spot.

This player movement affected two players: first, Suryakumar Yadav, who was batting in the lower middle order (No.5/No.6). He had to leave because Hardik and DK had taken those positions. Fortunately for the Mumbai Indians superstar, Shreyas Iyer’s weaknesses against short ball became more apparent, relegating him to the second backup option for a middle-order spot. As a result, Suryakumar had now established himself as the first backup for most middle-order positions.

Playing XIFirst BackupSecond Backup
Rohit SharmaIshan KishanRuturaj Gaikwad
KL RahulIshan KishanRuturaj Gaikwad
Virat KohliSuryakumar YadavShreyas Iyer
Rishabh Pant (wk)Suryakumar YadavDeepak Hooda
Hardik PandyaVenkatesh Iyer
Dinesh Karthik Suryakumar Yadav
Ravindra JadejaAxar Patel
Harshal PatelArshdeep Singh 
Bhuvneshwar KumarDeepak ChaharUmran Malik
Jasprit BumrahAvesh KhanUmran Malik
Yuzvendra ChahalRavi BishnoiKuldeep Yadav
Team India: T20 WC Depth Chart Post ENG series
  • While I had Arshdeep Singh as the squad’s first backup pacer, the team management seemed to prefer Umran Malik over him. But I suspect that has come to an end. Arshdeep may have only played one game on the tour, but some of the balls he bowled were like fireballs thrown straight from hell.
  • With a pattern developing against fast short balls, Ishan Kishan may have fallen down the pecking order.
  • Ruturaj Gaikwad is almost certainly out of the World Cup picture after a series of poor performances.
  • Deepak Hooda’s match-winning knocks against Ireland and England should help him take over after Shreyas Iyer, especially since Iyer’s case has weakened during his time in England. (Read: Why the second T20I against England was important for Indian cricket fans)
  • Kohli, Pant, and DK are all vying for two spots.
  • Kohli appears to be under the most pressure of the three; Pant has the advantage of LHB, WK, and other format form, and DK is filling a specialised requirement of a lower-middle order role. In contrast, the former Indian captain has nothing going for him. (Read: Why India opened with Rishabh Pant in second T20I)
  • Axar Patel’s backup finger spin bowling all-rounder spot may have gone to Washington Sundar or Ravichandran Ashwin. Aside from Axar’s failure to capitalise on his opportunities, India may be looking for a counter option to LHB-heavy teams.
  • With the cases of Ishan Kishan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, and Shreyas Iyer all worsening during the UK tour, Sanju Samson may have risen through the ranks.

If my observations are right, the Indian team is most likely gearing up for the World Cup in two ways right now:

Playing XI (Model 1): Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Harshal Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal

Playing XI (Model 2): Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja, Harshal Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal

Backup options (in preference order): Deepak Hooda, Avesh Khan, Ravi Bishnoi, Sanju Samson, Ravichandran Ashwin/Washington Sundar, Arshdeep Singh, Ishan Kishan

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