Monday, June 17, 2024

India vs Ireland, T20 World Cup: Things that Men in Blue need to address in group stage match

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Team India are set to face Ireland in their 2024 T20 World Cup opener in New York on Wednesday, in what will be Rahul Dravid’s
final assignment as head coach
. The Men in Blue, led by Rohit Sharma, played their only warm-up game of the tournament against Bangladesh at the same venue, and while they emerged victorious by 60 runs, there might still be a need for answering a few questions as India officially begin their campaign.

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So, what are those things that India will need to address against Ireland? We take a look:

Opening combination

India’s move to let Sanju Samson open with Rohit Sharma didn’t work. The Kerala batter struck a solitary run off six deliveries before being dismissed leg before off Shoriful Islam. Virat Kohli wasn’t available to take part in the warm-up match against the Tigers and Yashasvi Jaiswal is the other option India have got.

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Kohli, though, had a productive IPL with Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) at the top of the order, scoring 741 runs from 15 matches at a strike-rate of 154.69. Jaiswal has opened in all 17 T20Is he has played so far, but Virat Kohli has a much better record compared to the 21 year-old while doing so. The veteran has scored 400 runs in nine matches as an opener, including an unbeaten 122 against Afghanistan in the 2022 Asia Cup.

If not for Sanju Samson, Virat Kohli and Yashasvi Jaiswal remain the two possible opening choices for Rohit Sharma. BCCI image

Should Jaiswal open alongside Rohit, that would automatically mean Kohli bats at number three, and Rishabh Pant at No 4. That would ultimately leave Sanju Samson with no place in the XI should the team management decide to play both Hardik Pandya and Shivam Dube.

It also should not come as a surprise if the team management decides to open with Rohit and Kohli, with Jaiswal batting one down.

Jasprit Bumrah’s pace-bowling partner

Who will be Jasprit Bumrah’s pace-bowling partner? Both Mohammed Siraj and Arshdeep Singh played in the warm-up contest against Bangladesh, and while both performed quite brilliantly, Arshdeep was economically better, with figures of 2/12 from three overs.

Yet, there will still be a question as to who will support Jasprit Bumrah. Should India go in with an extra spinner on Wednesday, they could very well go ahead with Arshdeep Singh given his exploits in the death overs in the shortest format. The 25 year-old has bowled at the death in 35 matches, taking 32 wickets in this phase, whereas Siraj only has five wickets in eight matches to show off. Although the youngster has a tendency to leak runs, he still delivers when it matters the most.

Siraj, on the other hand, is a valuable pacer while it comes to bowling with the new ball. He, however, had a horror season with the new ball in the IPL, and the only reason why he could be dropped from the playing XI is his rhythm.

Another big question is whether Hardik Pandya will bowl. Hardik bowled three overs against Bangladesh and finished with figures of 1/30. He also bowled for an hour during one of the training sessions recently, and all signs point to the all-rounder bowling, although it remains to be seen how effective he can be.

Will KulCha play together? There’s no certainty yet, but there could also be a way to play Bumrah, Arshdeep and Siraj should Kuldeep play as a specialist spinner along with other spinners in Ravindra Jadeja and either Axar Patel or Yuzvendra Chahal. However, that would be at the expense of leaving Shivam Dube, who can be handy with both bat and ball.

Will Rishabh Pant bat higher?

The question over if Rishabh Pant will bat higher against Ireland may not have risen a few days ago. Batting at No 3 against Bangladesh, Pant scored 53 off 32 balls, showing great aggressive intent and timing his shots well.

Rishabh Pant struck four fours and as many sixes during his knock of 53 off 32 balls during India’s T20 World Cup warmup match between India and Bangladesh in New York. Image credit: X/@BCCI

Sure, Pant adds flexibility to the batting and adds depth too. It still should not come as surprise if Pant is sent out to bat at number four, after Kohli and Rohit (if they open) and Jaiswal at number three. That would mean Suryakumar Yadav at number five, a spot where has only played four times for India.

“We wanted to give Rishabh an opportunity to bat higher up the order and see how he performs in that role. We are keeping our options open. It’s important to have flexibility and depth in our batting order. We haven’t nailed the batting line-up yet; we wanted most guys to get a hit in the middle,” Rohit said after the Bangladesh.

It’s anyone’s guess as to where the 26 year-old will bat against Ireland, but wherever he bats, one thing is for sure — Expect fireworks because Pant, once he is in his groove, will hit the opposition out of the park.

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