5 questions that India need to answer before the 2020 T20 World Cup

Virat Kohli's form will be crucial to India's chances
Virat Kohli's form will be crucial to India's chances
Parshva Shah

The players, the coaching staff and even the fans thought that the Indian team was treading on the right path for constructing the best squad for the back-to-back T20 World Cup assignments after they won against West Indies and against South Africa in the 2nd T20I. But then they were brought back down to earth with a crushing defeat against the Proteas in the 3rd T20I.

Since then, there has been immense speculation regarding the future of MS Dhoni, the exclusion of spin twins Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal from the national setup, the form of Rishabh Pant and the future of KL Rahul.

Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant

With almost over a year and more than 20 T20 internationals to be played, the team management has enough time to find the right balance and iron out as many flaws as possible. The margins of error are very small for a tournament of the magnitude of next year's T20 World Cup Down Under, and so India need to ensure they plug the gaps everywhere.

There are a lot of questions surrounding the Indian team at the moment, more so after the semi-final exit against New Zealand at the World Cup. Here, we take a look at some of those questions that have to be answered before Virat Kohli and Co. take the field in a quest to win their second T20 World Cup.

#5 Will KL Rahul be a part of India's strongest XI?

KL Rahul has been on song in the IPL in the last few seasons
KL Rahul has been on song in the IPL in the last few seasons

Having lost his place to Rohit Sharma in the Test team, KL Rahul's last ray of hope of donning the Blue jersey was as a member of the T20I team since Shikhar Dhawan was obviously going to get the nod ahead of him in the ODI team (upon his return from injury).

We all know that a player of his class and talent should find a place in the Indian team. When he Rahul is in form, everyone can see that he has the ideal qualities to represent India in all the formats.

Rahul's numbers in the shortest format are remarkable. With an average exceeding 40, as well as having two centuries to his name, he has been very impressive in T20 cricket. He has been tested in the middle order as well.

But with over a year to go for the showpiece event, Rahul's future in all formats looks bleak, let alone the shortest format. For now, he will remain the backup opener, and only an injury to one of the openers can make a case for him to be selected.

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#4 What will the bowling line-up look like once Bumrah returns?

Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Bhuvneshwar Kumar

This Indian bowling line-up wears a young and exciting look with the likes of Deepak Chahar and Navdeep Saini in the ranks. Both these bowlers have justified their selections by picking up wickets.

Jasprit Bumrah's comeback to the T20 squad is inevitable, and someone will have to make way for him.

Not just Bumrah, but even Bhuvneshwar Kumar's return is being anticipated after he was a surprise exclusion from the squad that would face the Proteas in the 3-match T20I series. Apparently, that was a part of managing his workload.

With Krunal Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja becoming indispensable owing to their pyrotechnics with the bat, the ball and on the field, there's only one spot left in the bowling department. That will, in all likelihood, be filled by another fast bowler, bearing in mind the quick pitches Down Under.

This also raises the question about 19-year-old Washington Sundar, who has shown that he is mature beyond his years. With just one place up for grabs, it is going to be a three-way battle between Chahar, Saini and Sundar to complete the line-up.

#3 Will we get another glimpse at the wizardry of 'Kul-Cha'?

Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal had an abysmal World Cup campaign
Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal had an abysmal World Cup campaign

After asserting their dominance over almost every opposition India faced for almost two years, a dismal performance at the ICC World Cup 2019 all but ended their reign as India's frontline spinners in the shorter formats.

What doesn't help either is the lack of confidence - something that is more evident in Kuldeep Yadav's case. He had the worst IPL season of his career earlier this year.

Wrist spinner Rahul Chahar's continued inclusion in the squad also indicates that the selectors have begun to look beyond the wrist spin duo of Kuldeep and Chahal.

The emphasis in recent series has been to develop a batting line-up that runs deep, one where players that come in at 8 or 9 can score quick runs if required.

India seem intent on sacrificing the more attacking spin options in Kuldeep and Chahal for the sake of improving the batting line-up, which is why Krunal Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja and Washington Sundar have been regular fixtures in the starting XI since the West Indies tour.

#2 Will the middle order conundrum end?

Shreyas Iyer will look to further consolidate his place in the middle order
Shreyas Iyer will look to further consolidate his place in the middle order

Shreyas Iyer's return to the Indian colours due to consistent returns for India A seems to be a clever move by the Indian selectors. With players such as Shubman Gill waiting in the wings for an opportunity, India has enough time to finalize the middle order.

If the recently concluded T20I series is anything to go by, India are looking to mould Hardik Pandya into a proper middle-order batsman, pretty much like how Ben Stokes plays for England.

Assuming Hardik will play at No. 6 and Iyer continues his fine form at No. 4, it leaves just one spot up for grabs, likely to be taken by Rishabh Pant (assuming MS Dhoni hangs up his boots).

If Pant's poor form continues, it would be safe to at least imagine KL Rahul being selected as the wicket-keeper. He would then play as a middle-order batsman.

#1 Will MS Dhoni play his last ICC assignment at the 2020 T20 World Cup?

MS Dhoni's future is unclear at this point
MS Dhoni's future is unclear at this point

Amongst the current crop of Indian players that are in contention for selection for T20Is, MS Dhoni is the only player from the triumphant Indian squad that tasted glory in the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007.

It's a no-brainer that Dhoni's inclusion can also work wonders for the team, despite what the critics have been saying about him.

The backlash that Dhoni has received over the last few years is harsh, since his abilities have faded with age. However, his experience and tactical acumen can prove to be invaluable.

Dhoni will be 39 come the T20 World Cup next year. However, age is just a number. After all, Australian wrist spinner Brag Hogg last represented Australia in a T20I at the age of 43.

Dhoni is on a break currently, and we can expect him to mark his return during the upcoming series against Bangladesh on home soil starting from 3 November. He will be tasked with a Herculean challenge upon his comeback - to silence his critics and show the world that he can still be a fundamental part of the squad.

Edited by Musab Abid


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