As the dust of the 75 day long World cup is settling down, time has arrived for Indian cricket to look forward as we approach the point system for World test championships from next series and the World cup T20 in Australia in November 2020. And with next ODI World cup in 2023, it is now more important that test cricket and T20 cricket are given more priority for next one and half years as Test championships will be on and World T20 is next year.
The recent World cup has shown as a team where India stands. India were the best team in the league phase but few chinks in the armour got exposed in the semis . Going forward the below steps or modifications can help Indian cricket to move forward:
- More stress needs to be given to Test Cricket due to start of World championships point system from next series. Care needs to be taken to ensure that the key players are fit and available for Tests ,specially against top teams.
- We should start building a core T20 unit with an eye to the next T20 World Cup. Hence Syed Musthaq Ali and IPL 2020 will be two most important events next season .
- The selectors will now have to be very clear to MS Dhoni ,38, about his requirements in Indian XI . Having retired from Tests long back, MSD plays white ball cricket only. Next 50 over World cup is 4 years away ,so no question of him playing that. Moreover his diminishing strike rate ,no longer makes him an automatic choice for T20 squad ,which requires more youngsters and high strike rates. Thus time has come for the selectors to take a final call on Dhoni’s future. And Dinesh Karthik after his World cup performance have surely played himself out of Indian reckoning.
- India needs a vibrant middle order for the upcoming challenges for T20 and the core players should be able to strike big. The top three looks settled and Rahul may have to settle for middle order spot. Rishab Pant should be the wicketkeeper batsman and should bat at 4 or 5 as he has shown glimpses of his ability in World cup. Free stroking Ishan Kishen can be his cover for T20s. In recent times Manish Pandey has shown good striking form so he can be relooked at and he is also a gun fielder . Nitish Rana had a very good IPL2019 to challenge for a spot and 17 year old Riyan Parag of Rajasthan Royals have shown great promise in various situations . Then we have Mayank Agarwal , Shreyas Iyer and Vijay Shankar, who got injured in World cup. The players with good striking power and ability to stage recovery from tough situations should be considered.
- The Indian fast bowling has overall looked good in the World cup, so the same core might be maintained in T20 with tall and lanky southpaw Khaleel Ahmed can be a good addition as he has upped his pace recently and his steep bounce can be disconcerting. Deepak Chahar can also be a very good bowling resource to supplement Bumrah, Bhuvaneswar, Hardik and Shami. As for the spinners, Jadeja should be back in the T20 XI for his all round skills. Chahal may retain his spot but Kuldeep needs some work to do after a mediocre World cup. Karnataka’s leggie Shreyas Gopal can be a good addition after his stellar show in last two IPLs .Also Rahul Chahar can be a good option. Of Course Krunal Pandya for his allround skills and resourceful batting will be there.
- Not too many changes for the Test XI though. Believe Shaw if fit will open with Mayank. Pujara, Kohli and Rahane makes up the middle order but with Rahane’s recent form being patchy, highly talented Shubman Gill should be the next in line for number 5. Even Rohit Sharma should have another look in after his stellar show in World cup. Hanuma Vihari, is a steady player but needs to sharpen his technique for short pitch bowling as he got exposed somewhat in Australia. Also with openers still trying to find their feet, Bengal’s prolific opener Abhimanyu Easwaran who has been so prolific for India A and Ranji ,should be in there as cover.
- As for the test keeping spot , if Wriddhiman Saha is fit he can be the 2nd keeper for Pant. Alternatively promising keeper KS Bharat can come in the reckoning for his swift keeping and much improved batting.
- With Bumrah , Shami, and Ishant having done so well in Australia and Bhuvneswar in the wings, the fast bowling group for tests is looking good . However we need to have both Navdeep Saini and Khaleel Ahmed as substitutes from now on. Saini is pacy and talented and should be soon in the XI. It looks a long way back for Umesh Yadav now unless he strikes top form soon . Jadeja and Ashwin should continue as first choice spinners for test cricket.
- Well, we cannot ignore the ODI team as the team will be playing their next ODI series in West Indies. Some of our top players like Kohli, Rohit ,Bumrah can be rested. Without any further thoughts we should try out from Shreyas Iyer, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal and maybe Manish Pandey for 2 of the middle order slots as strong resources are required to cover up the occasional failures of top three. Both Saini and Khaleel can be tried as fast bowlers to rest few of our World cup stars.
- Is Virat Kohli being too overburdened with captaincy ? Most cricket fans will agree that first India needs Kohli as a batsman , then as a captain. Not that Kohli is struggling in batting but the constant pressures of captaining the team in all 3 formats round the year is bound to take a toll sooner than later . Indian selectors should go the English way and split the captaincy. Rohit for T20s and ODIs and Kohli only for tests. Believe this should allow Kohli to enjoy his game a lot more with lesser stress. With Rohit around as such a viable captaincy option ,the Indian board needs to give a long hard thought into it. Split captaincy has already done wonders for England.
- And finally, will the current Indian coaching group be retained? The bowling coach Bharat Arun should be happy with his achievements as India has done well in bowling front in last 18 months (specially fast bowling). However the batting coach Sanjay Bangar has questions to answer on India’s batting debacles in overseas tests and in World cup semis as we could not nail the number 4 spot in ODIs. Ravi Shastri will be happy with his Australian sojourn but failures in England and South Africa test series and Word cup semis ,slipping down from advantageous position multiple times coupled with some wierd team selections in those test series are bound to hurt.
The board has already advertised for new coaches position after the Windies tour. Interesting days ahead. All eyes are now on coaching selection panel.