With the Indian selectors recalling plenty of senior pros back into the T20I and ODI squads for the upcoming assignments against West Indies, it gives an indication that they are looking to assemble a pool of players for two T20 World Cups that will be held over the next 18 months.
The two limited-overs contests will also be the final two series for the hosts before the turn of the year and India will be hoping to cap off what has been an excellent 2019 minus the World Cup semi-final exit, on a positive note.
Here we list five Indian players who could make an impact in the T20I and ODI series:
Left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav returns to the T20I set up after nearly nine months. The 24-year-old last featured in February against New Zealand. Kuldeep, who was an instant hit in white-ball cricket since his debut in 2017, was found wanting in the Indian Premier League 2019 that thwarted his successful run. Kuldeep bagged only four wickets in nine games for the Kolkata Knight Riders, followed by a sub-par World Cup, where the Uttar Pradesh spinner picked six wickets in seven outings. He has been selected for both the T20I and ODI squads which should ideally provide him six matches to make a case for himself again. Kuldeep's return also means he will be paired with his spin twin Yuzvendra Chahal as the 'Kulcha' combo once again looks to wreak havoc against the Windies.
Shreyas Iyer has been making all the right noises as a dependable middle-order mainstay by seamlessly switching from aggressor to an accumulator in the opportunities he has had in the last six months. Iyer has been billed as a solution to India's impending issue of the muddle in the middle order. In the very first series after the ODI World Cup, Iyer, with his vital knocks of 71 off 68 balls and 65 off 41 balls in Port of Spain at number five, showed his mettle. The Mumbai batsman received a call-up to the T20I side for the South Africa and Bangladesh series where he once again displayed his skills as a solid attacking batsman. He even earned plaudits for his leadership during the IPL guiding Delhi Capitals to the play-offs. The series against West Indies could see him establish his credentials further as the number four in both the formats.
Mohammed Shami's irresistible form with the red ball has made him the marksman in India's bowling arsenal. However, it will be interesting to see if he could replicate his magic with the white ball as well. Shami, who made his T20I debut in 2014, has featured in only seven games for India. With India looking to try several options especially in the death bowling department coupled with the unavailability of Jasprit Bumrah and Navdeep Saini, both nursing injuries, it creates an opportunity for the Indian team management to see how Shami does in the limited-overs. Shami has been a part of the ODI set up in last year or so, even getting four games in the ODI World Cup and a couple in the series in the Caribbean. In his comeback series, Shami will also get to forge a partnership with a familiar ally in Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has perhaps gone down the pecking order in Tests but is still India's number two in coloured kits.
Shikhar Dhawan's injury has cleared the pathway for KL Rahul at the top of the order. The Karnataka opener will be an automatic choice to partner Rohit Sharma in the series against the West Indies. Rahul, to his credit, has some outstanding numbers in the shortest format, closing in on 1000 T20I runs. The right-hand batsman averages 42.34 with an impressive strike rate of 145.37. Rahul returning to opener's position is likely to give him more chances to take advantage of the fielding restrictions and if he has a good series, he might end up sealing his position. In addition, the Karnataka batsman has warmed up nicely with some noteworthy performances in the Syed Mushtaq Ali, including three 50+ scores in the last six matches.
The forthcoming series will present a massive opportunity for Ravindra Jadeja to make a strong case for himself as India look to lock in on a left-arm spin bowling all-rounder option. Krunal Pandya's inclusion in the T20I series against Bangladesh saw Jadeja sitting out as chief selector MSK Prasad said that Pandya and Jadeja offered similar attributes. Now, Pandya isn't a part of the squad giving the Saurashtra all-rounder a chance to cement his position. However, with multiple spin options available, his place in the XI will depend on the combination the team management is willing to field. There has been a noticeable improvement in Jadeja's batting in the ODI and Tests. In fact, he has been promoted up the order to No 6 in red-ball cricket. The West Indies series could see him being used differently, as a batsman, given the situation the match is in.
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