After a successful start to their new home season against the Proteas, India will lock horns with Bangladesh in a three-match T20I series, starting 3 November in Delhi.
Both Asian sides will look to be on top of their game as they gear up for the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia.
While India have been a formidable unit in Tests and ODIs, they are yet to crack the puzzle in the shortest format of the game, a fact that becomes evident from their rankings. India are second to none in Tests and only trail world champions England in the ODI rankings but find themselves at five on the T20I table.
Nevertheless, the Men in Blue will step on the field as favourites against a number 9 ranked Bangladeshi side. Let’s consider their last encounter. The final of the Nidahas Trophy in 2018 was the last time the two sides squared off in a T20I. The match went down to the wire but will be remembered for Dinesh Kartik, whose blistering 8-ball-29 denied Bangladesh a historic win.
As far as India’s current form is concerned, they made a 3-0 clean sweep over the West Indies but their T20I series against South Africa ended in a 1-1 stalemate with the Proteas pulling off a series-levelling win. Now, they will look to rectify their mistakes and establish dominance against Bangladesh.
With Indian selectors announcing rest for Virat Kohli and the likes of Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Navdeep Saini also missing out due to injuries, the spotlight will be on youngsters like Sanju Samson, Shivam Dube and Shardul Thakur.
Here, we look at the five Indian players who could make an impact during the upcoming T20I series.
India's batting line-up will be led by none other than the man who could do no wrong at the moment – Rohit Sharma. Against the Proteas, the 'Hitman' scripted history after he slammed his second consecutive ton in his first Test match as an opener for India. Later in the third Test, the Mumbai batsman struck his maiden double century in Test cricket. Heck, he even shattered the record for the most sixes in a Test.
After proving to be a revelation as a Test opener, the 32-year-old would love to carry his rich vein of form onto the shortest format of the game. India would expect him to get them off to a flying start.
Apart from his batting, it will also be interesting to see how Rohit marshals his young guns in the absence of big names. In the past, he has led India in a total of 15 T20 internationals. Out of these, the side has emerged victorious in 12, a staggering win percentage of 80. Besides, under his leadership, franchise Mumbai Indians have won four Indian Premier League (IPL) titles.
Thus, Rohit remains central to India’s success - both as a skipper and batsmen.
2019 hasn’t been the best year for Shikhar Dhawan. Rohit’s opening partner has accumulated only 181 runs at an average of 20 in nine T20 internationals that he has played so far this year.
His ODI statistics paint a similar sorry picture. Dhawan averages a mere 36.4 in his 17 ODI innings this year, which is way too less for a top-order batsman of his calibre. No wonder, the left-hander has come under the scanner following his poor run in 2019.
Thus, being an experienced batsman alongside Rohit, India will need him to step up his game and get some big scores under his belt against Bangladesh. If the veteran’s failures continue, India could well turn to KL Rahul, who struck 598 runs at an average of 66.64 and helped Karnataka get their hands on the Vijay Hazare trophy.
Promising wicket-keeper batsman Sanju Samson has also been named in the Indian squad. The Kerala cricketer was last seen in the Indian colours back in 2015 against Zimbabwe — his only T20I till date.
Samson had recently caught the eye of selectors in the Vijay Hazare match between Kerala and Goa when he struck 212 runs from 129 balls. This was also the fastest double-century by an Indian in List A cricket.
Chief selector MSK Prasad had stated that India are moving on from MS Dhoni with an eye on future and that they consider Rishabh Pant as an asset to India’s future plans. However, the 22-year-old been guilty of playing reckless shots and hasn’t quite lived up to his reputation in limited-overs cricket. For the same reason, he was also dropped from the Test series against the Proteas.
In such a scenario, if we look at Samson, he is someone who can play controlled shots as well as hammer the ball out of the park, if need be. Besides, the fact that he has batted both up and down the order in the domestic circuit and for his IPL franchises adds to his versatility.
Lately, the number 4 slot has been one of India’s major headaches. While the likes of Shreyas Iyer, Vijay Shankar, Ambati Rayudu and Rishabh Pant have already made their cases, it will be interesting to see what Samson can bring to the table, if given an opportunity.
But, one thing is for sure, Pant will face the heat this time around with Samson’s inclusion in the squad.
If you remember, this is the guy who bagged a contract of Rs 5 crore from the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Despite making the headlines, Dube hardly got opportunities to represent the franchise in the IPL.
Cut to the present, and the Mumbai all-rounder’s recent form across formats has finally been rewarded. Dube received his maiden-call up to the Indian side following impressive outings for India A versus South Africa A and previously, against West Indies A.
He shone in the ODI series against South Africa A at home by smacking 155 runs in four games, that too at a strike rate of 144.85. Besides, he played a quickfire knock of 118 off 67 balls in Mumbai’s clash against Karnataka in the recently concluded Vijay Hazare Trophy.
In Hardik Pandya’s absence, Dube will also provide Rohit Sharma an extra pace bowling option. He will be looking to make a statement.
A lot will depend on the prolific leggie, who also happens to the most experienced amongst all Indian bowlers. Chahal was dropped from the squad for the West Indies and South Africa T20I series as selectors looked to experiment with bowling options. The 29-year-old last featured during a T20I for India against Australia back in February.
The fact that he was dropped from the side despite having a fairly decent World Cup campaign wouldn’t go down very well with him. Chahal had 12 scalps to his name from the eight matches he played for India during the 2019 ODI World Cup. More importantly, he conceded runs at an economy rate of 5.97.
Now, having got the opportunity to lead the bowling unit, he will be looking to spin a web around the Bangladeshi batsmen and be a permanent feature in the T20 Internationals.
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