Aakash Chopra has picked India's likely playing XI for the first T20I against New Zealand, which will be played in Wellington on Friday, November 18. The Men in Blue will lock horns with the Kiwis in a three-match T20I series followed by as many ODIs.
The selectors have picked a 16-member Indian squad for the three-match series, with ace all-rounder Hardik Pandya as skipper. Senior players like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Ravichandran Ashwin, Dinesh Karthik, and Mohammed Shami are not part of the squad.
In a video shared on his YouTube channel, Chopra opined that picking the playing XI would be an arduous task. He reasoned:
"When I try to make the team here, I feel it is a very difficult task. They have made the task difficult for themselves because there are so many keepers - you will find Ishan Kishan, Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson here."
The former Indian opener highlighted that the squad has a plethora of top-order batters. He explained:
"All are top-order batters, there is no one who bats down the order, whether it is Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill, Sanju, Shreyas (Iyer), Hardik (Pandya) or SKY (Suryakumar Yadav) - everyone wants to bat up the order."
The cricketer-turned-commentator added that the squad lacks specialist lower middle-order batters.
"Everyone is a top-four batter," he continued. "I don't see a No. 5 to No. 7 batter in this team. When I look towards the all-rounders, I see Hardik Pandya as the only seam-bowling all-rounder, Washington Sundar as a spin-bowling all-rounder - his stature also grows when he bats up the order, we have not seen him finishing down the order."
The lack of finishers has been one of India's problem areas of late. Even Hardik, who plays as a finisher in international cricket, does not perform that role for the Gujarat Titans (GT) in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
"If you have selected Bhuvi, how will you drop him?" - Aakash Chopra
Chopra feels veteran fast bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar has to be a part of the playing XI. He reasoned:
"In fast bowling, I see Umran Malik but I also see Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel and Arshdeep (Singh). Then I say if you have selected Bhuvi, how will you drop him? If you will select Rohit, Kohli or Rahul - you will play them in the XI. Bhuvneshwar Kumar's stature is no less than anyone."
The reputed commentator concluded by sharing India's probable playing XI, stating:
"The likely XI is that Shubman Gill might be seen opening with Pant, there might not be any place for Ishan Kishan. Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Hooda, Washington at No. 7 and Harshal at No. 8, Chahal, Arshdeep and Bhuvi."
Aakash Chopra's likely India XI: Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Harshal Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
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