India will sorely miss a fast-bowling all-rounder in the Australia T20 Series
Rohit Sharma is right in saying that India will take the confidence of white-washing the T20 series against world champions West Indies, into their T20 series against Australia.
In the post-series press conference, he praised his players’ ability to remain focused all through. He especially singled out the spin-bowling all-rounder Krunal Pandya for special mention, praising his street-smartness and fearlessness.
For a debutant, Rohit found Krunal’s fearless batting in the first T20 match especially praise-worthy when he guided India to a victory from a slightly tricky situation, in the company of Dinesh Karthik.
Rohit also rightly pointed out that the T20 series against Australia will be a whole new ball game. It indeed will be, as will be the challenges posed. It’s not just the new set of players who will pose a challenge to the second-ranked team in ICC rankings, but also the new conditions.
In Indian conditions, India could well afford to have two or three spinners in the playing eleven, as was seen in the West Indies series, with Krunal Pandya donning the crucial role of a spin-bowling all-rounder.
But in Australia, especially in Gabba where India will play its first T20 match of the series, India will face a very different surface, a fast and bouncy track. India cannot have a similar squad as they had during the West Indies series.
India will most probably go with one spinner and depending on the surface, at best two. And if India decides to go with just one spinner, that spinner has to be India’s best, and Krunal Pandya, not-withstanding all his fearlessness and street-smartness, is certainly not the one. India will have to go with either Kuldeep Yadav or Yuzvendra Chahal, or both, depending on the nature of the pitch.
This is where India will sorely miss the service of a pace-bowling all-rounder, someone like Hardik Pandya, who is currently out of action, due to injury. From among the pace bowlers that India have in its T20 squad, only Bhuvneshwar can bat a bit. None of the other three – Bumrah, Khaleel and Umesh – deserve to bat higher than number 10, at best.
This absence of a pace-bowling all-rounder could come back to haunt India in the upcoming T20 series against Australia.