Cricket

India vs England: From Suryakumar Yadav to Bhuvneshwar Kumar, five Indian players to watch out for in T20I series

  • FirstCricket Staff
  • March 9th, 2021
  • 13:10:02 IST

After pulling off yet another dominant series win in the Test leg, India will certainly hope to keep their winning ways intact when they take on England in the five-match T20I series starting Friday.

Momentum will certainly be on India's side as the ongoing tour enters the limited-overs phase, with the Virat Kohli-led side bouncing back in spectacular fashion after losing the first Test in Chennai by a sizeable 227-run margin. India went on to level the series at the same venue by 317 runs, win the pink-ball encounter at Motera inside two days before scripting an innings win — also at the rechristened Narendra Modi Stadium — to complete a 3-1 series victory and book their spot in the World Test Championship final.

Much like the English, India will be heading to the white-ball fixtures with a new-look squad, many of whom are specialists for the formats. Among the players, and we aren't including Test specialists here, missing from the Indian T20I squad is Jasprit Bumrah, who was hardly needed in the Tests beyond the first match as the spinners went about demolishing the opposition lineup. There's no Mohammed Shami either, as he is yet to full recover from the wrist injury that he had suffered in the Australia tour.

Aside from players such as KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya, who couldn't find a spot in the Test side but are expected to play a big role in the T20Is and ODIs, India have picked uncapped players such as Suryakumar Yadav, Rahul Tewatia, Varun Chakravarthy, hoping to unearth even more gems in the coming set of matches.

As the T20Is beckon, we take a look at some of the Indian players who could send experts and fans buzzing with their performances:

File image of Suryakumar Yadav. Sportzpics

Suryakumar Yadav had a stellar run with the bat in IPL 2020 and has ultimately been rewarded with a maiden India call-up. Sportzpics

Suryakumar Yadav

A consistent performer in the domestic scene, the fact that Surya hadn't made it to the Indian dressing room despite proving himself for so long baffled many, although it was also a testament to India's bench strength. The clamour for his selection, though, only grew louder after a stellar run in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 (480 runs; average: 40; strike rate: 145.01), following which even head coach Ravi Shastri assured the batsman that his time would soon come.

And that did happen as Yadav earned his maiden India call-up with the announcement of the squad for the T20Is against England. Should skipper Virat Kohli find room in the middle order to accommodate him, 'Sky' will likely grab the chance with both hands, especially since he's had to wait for it for so long.

And it's a task he shouldn't find too difficult to achieve given the kind of form he is in right now. Yadav has, after all, collected 332 runs (average: 66.40; strike rate: 151.59) in the Vijay Hazare Trophy so far, including a century and two half-centuries in his last five outings.

File image of Bhuvneshwar Kumar. AFP

Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be expected to spearhead the Indian attack in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah. AFP

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

With Bumrah rested, Shami yet to recover from injury and Ishant hardly playing outside the Test format, the responsibility of leading the Indian attack might fall on Bhuvneshwar's shoulders, the seamer himself making a comeback into the squad after recovering from a thigh muscle injury that had forced him to the sidelines for an extended period.

Since his injury-forced exit in IPL 2020, Bhuvneshwar has made four appearances in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and five in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. While he wasn't exactly a leading wicket-taker for his side, what stood out in his performances was his economical bowling, keeping it below six in three of the four T20 Mushtaq Ali matches he played in. A trait that could come in handy in building pressure in the coming set of matches against Eoin Morgan's men.

That the ICC T20 World Cup is taking place in India later this year and a number of young pacers knocking on the doors of selection is enough for Bhuvi to feel a bit of pressure even if he's a senior member of the side. Expect the pacer to make a statement once he rediscovers his rhythm early on and, hopefully for him, suffers no further niggles.

Rahul Tewatia

Mention the name, and one still gets flashbacks of that Sheldon Cottrell over. Indeed, his whirwind knock against Kings XI Punjab (now Punjab Kings) that helped Rajasthan Royals script a memorable win in Sharjah made him a household name overnight and forced the selectors to sit up and take notice of the bowling all-rounder.

While he emerged one of Rajasthan's standout players (255 runs and 10 wickets) at the end of what was an otherwise disappointing campaign, the innings — along with some of his most recent returns in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy — might have had something to do with him getting named in the T20I squad.

And while it might be a tad difficult for him to get named in the XI given he faces plenty of competition for the second spinner's slot from the likes of Axar Patel and Washington Sundar, one can certainly expect his batting skills to come in handy in addition to his spin-bowling duties should he get the green light.

File image of India limited-overs opener Shikhar Dhawan. AP

India limited-overs opener Shikhar Dhawan faces tough competition from KL Rahul and other young batters waiting in the wings. AP

Shikhar Dhawan

The opening batsman who had a prolific run as an opener, especially in limited-overs, in the previous decade knows jolly well the pressure he now faces to retain his spot as Rohit Sharma's opening partner. Not only has KL Rahul dished out a set of solid performances in that position in recent months, but there are several more openers waiting for their turn in the wings.

And given he has but another three-four years left in his career, Dhawan will have to make every performance count if he is to make another couple of appearances for India in ICC events — of which there are plenty in the next two years.

As for his current form, Dhawan bounced back from a string of low scores with a well-composed 153 that helped Delhi beat Maharashtra in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy, a knock that should give him the confidence of giving the English attack a similar treatment in the five-T20Is.

Rishabh Pant

Almost everything that he's touching is turning to gold these days. Such has been the rate at which Pant has been dishing blinders starting from the second Test against Australia in December.

And while he's firmly cemented himself as the first-choice wicket-keeper in the Test format with his stunning performances, one does recall that it has been a while since he's donned the blue jersey — his last white-ball appearance for India being the first ODI against Australia in January, 2020, back when he was still going through the rough patch and wasn't a certainty in any of the formats.

Pant would very much love to ride the current wave of success and carry his batting form in Tests, which had some outrageous T20 strokes interspersed with the traditional ones, over to the T20Is. And given he's a much-improved keeper now, he should take over that role from KL Rahul, who will now be competing for the second opener's slot or maybe one in the middle order.

Updated Date: March 09, 2021 13:10:02 IST

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