The Indian selection committee announced a 15 man squad on 8th September for the 2021 T20 World Cup which will be held in UAE in October-November.
Along with the squad announcement, one more big announcement was made. MS Dhoni, the former Indian captain has been appointed as the mentor on a one-off basis for the coming WC. He will work with Ravi Shastri, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma during this period. It is a great move considering that Dhoni has led India in all T20 World Cups up till now. Even though the last date to submit the squad is 10th September, teams can change their squad till 10th October.
India has gone in with a spin heavy squad as five spinners have been selected in the 15 in contrast to only three pacers. Most of the batsmen pick themselves but there have been a few notable omissions. Axar Patel who has played only two games for India since 2018 has been selected in the squad. His selection seems puzzling as there is a left-arm spinner (Ravindra Jadeja) who is going to feature in the first XI in most of the games. It seems as if he is going to warm the bench throughout the World Cup unless there is an injury to Jadeja. On that note, let us have a look at the players who missed the bus that has the capacity of 15 passengers.
Deepak Chahar who impressed with his all-round abilities in the Sri Lanka series didn’t make the cut in the main squad but has been picked as a reserve. Chahar has done well for India whenever he has got an opportunity and many experts considered him as a certainty in the squad.
Chahar, by far has been the best Indian pacer in the powerplay since IPL 2018. Even though some bowlers have a lower economy rate none of them have managed to pick up wickets at a rate at which Chahar has managed to pick them. He has an acceptable economy rate of 8.3 in the death overs (16-20) since IPL 2018. India has gone in with five spinners and only three pacers and they seem one seamer short. Chahar could have been that pacer but the selectors opted for a spinner.
Shardul Thakur who is also known as ‘Lord Shardul’ was the talk of the town in the past week where India triumphed over England in the 4th Test match. Thakur displayed a brilliant bowling effort against the No. 1 Ranked T20I team, England in March 2021. He picked up 8 wickets in 5 matches at a strike rate of 13 and was the leading wicket taker in that series.
On looking at the selections made, it is a surprising call to see Mohammed Shami get picked ahead of Shardul Thakur. Shami, who made his T20I debut in 2014 has played only 12 matches ever since, which is 9 lesser than Thakur who debuted in 2018. The numbers show Thakur to be more effective in the shortest format boasting a lower average and economy rate than Shami. Thakur has got a knack of providing key breakthroughs when the team most needs it. Given his Batting SR of 197 in T20Is, he adds value to the team with his handy batting down the order making him an ideal number 8 for the Indian team.
He is currently placed in the reserves of the India’s WT20 squad and a good run in this half of the IPL might just force the selectors to give his case another thought.
Shreyas Iyer was a regular member of the T20I XI for India before he got injured in the first ODI against England earlier this year. Since then, he has missed the first half of the IPL and the Sri Lanka series where he could have potentially led the Indian side. Shreyas Iyer might have some issues with his overall strike rate but his strike rate against spin is something that makes him special. He is an excellent spin hitter and takes on his match-ups brilliantly.
Shreyas Iyer has an SR of 137 against pace bowling but that goes up to 148 against spin bowling in T20Is. To notch it up, his SR goes past 240 when he is facing off-spinners. He hits a six every 3.14 balls against off-spinners which is a great match-up that goes in his favour. Most of the teams try to bring in their off-spinner in the middle-overs, especially if there is a left-hander to tackle the leg-spinner. Iyer creates great combinations with left-handers as we have seen with Shikhar Dhawan and Rishabh Pant at the Delhi Capitals in the IPL. With spin predicted to be the flavour of the T20 World Cup, Iyer could have been a good option in the middle-order but unfortunately, he found a spot in the reserves.
India has picked five spinners in the 15 member squad and surprisingly, Yuzvendra Chahal was not one of them. Everybody considered Chahal to be a certainty in the squad but somehow he has been dropped and he isn’t even in the reserves. Chahal has been the best Indian leg-spinner in the IPL since 2018 and the numbers show it.
He has the most number of wickets for an Indian in the middle-overs at an economy rate of just above 7 and he plays most of his IPL matches at a venue that is considered to be a nightmare for spinners. In IPL 2020, which was held in UAE, Chahal was the leading wicket-taker among spinners as he picked up 21 wickets in 15 matches at an economy rate of 7.08. He is India’s leading wicket-taker in the shortest format. It is a huge setback for Chahal and he will be hoping to make a strong case in the IPL before the final deadline of October 10.
Shikhar Dhawan who led India in their last T20I series hasn’t been picked in the 15 man squad for the T20 World Cup. The 35-year-old southpaw didn’t find a place in the reserves either. Shikhar Dhawan has arguably been the best Indian opener in the IPL since 2019. Since he has moved to Delhi Capitals, his strike rate has gone up and and won many games singlehandedly for his side.
He has the second-highest strike rate in the powerplay among all the Indian batsmen who have faced more than 200 balls in the powerplay since IPL 2019. Apart from this, Dhawan is the second-highest run-scorer since IPL 2019. Being a left-hander, India could have gone in with a left-right combination at the top. The selectors have mentioned that Ishan Kishan has been picked as the third opener but the youngster lacks experience which Dhawan has in abundance. He has the opportunity to score big runs in the IPL but at this age, it seems as if Shikhar Dhawan has played his last T20I for India.