In September, India will head to Sri Lanka to take part in the World T20. The only real preparation that Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s squad will have before the event – in T20 terms – is two T20 international against New Zealand, who aren’t exactly the best team on the planet.
So how will the Indian selectors go about trying to pick the squad for the World T20? We’ve already seen that success at the Test level or even the one-day level does not guarantee success in T20. It takes a certain amount of madness to click in the format; a certain amount of confidence to back yourself and the knowledge that anything is possible – even stuff that we would’ve clearly deemed impossible just a couple of years back.
So while keeping an eye on the World T20, it’s interesting to see how the Indian team (we’ve picked the same XI that played South Africa in March) did in the fifth season of the IPL.
RV Uthappa was disappointing. G Gambhir has impressed as captain and as batsman, V Kohli and Rohit Sharma have had the odd good innings. SK Raina slept through the tournament. MS Dhoni has proved he is the man for the big moment. The Pathan brother, Irfan and Yusuf, haven't performed to potential while R Ashwin has struggled to take wickets. The pacemen, Praveen Kumar and R Vinay Kumar, have been pretty pedestrian too. (You can check out the statistics in the table below)
One look at this line-up tells you that with this particular squad, India aren’t going to be world-beaters. The conditions in Sri Lanka will be pretty similar to what we’ve seen in India and it means that India’s spinners will need to not only bowl economically but also take wickets.
At the start of the tournament, Dhoni had said that his trump card would be having R Ashwin bowl during the Power Play overs. But the off-spinner just hasn’t looked good enough to do that role – his loss of form can probably be linked to the mauling he received in Australia.
But the sad bit is that very few other Indian spinners have really impressed. Leg-spinners Piyush Chawla (16 wickets) and Amit Mishra (13 wickets) took the most wickets but they don’t exactly inspire confidence given their previous displays in India colours. Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli can turn their arm over but India would prefer not to rely on them too much.
On the pace bowling front – India very clearly lack a finisher. A bowler who can come into the attack and with some degree of certainty control the flow of runs towards the end of the innings. Dhoni would probably like Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav to give some bite to the pace attack because Praveen Kumar and Vinay Kumar are just not good enough.
On the batting front too, Sehwag and Gambhir have been exceptional. Everyone else has been up and down and that can’t be good for India.
The IPL has been exciting. It has had a lot of last-over finishes but it hasn’t thrown up an exceptional new talent for India to make use of in the future. And perhaps that is something the BCCI should be worried about. If the IPL was about finding stars for India, then it has been a failure.
On form, here's what we feel India's T20 team should look like: Gambhir, Shikhar Dhawan, Sehwag, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, M S Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja (spin-allrounder), Irfan Pathan (pace allrounder) / Yusuf Pathan (spin allrounder), Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav, Piyush Chawla.
What's your take?
The performance of the Indian T20 XI in the IPL