The squad for the Asia Cup and the T20 World Cup has been announced! Here’s a quick look at the squad, and my analysis of it.
Squad: MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh, Pawan Negi, Mohammed Shami
Likely Playing XI: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra
All right then. With the exception of Pawan Negi (who had already been picked for the India vs Sri Lanka T20Is), there aren’t any major surprises here. Let’s jump right into it.
This is a strong squad: It’s well balanced, has several bowling options, and is tailor-made for Indian conditions. The likely playing XI has 7 players who can bowl, and bats all the way till number 9. India might just become the first team to a) win the tournament at home and b) win the T20 World Cup for the second time.
Rahane over Pandey: I suspect this decision would have been a lot harder to make if Pandey could bowl. If either of Yuvraj or Raina struggle, their replacement can’t contribute a few overs – something Dhoni is pretty big on. Nevertheless, I do think this is the right decision. Rahane has been in excellent form, and deserves to be a part of the squad.
The selection of Pawan Negi: Pawan Negi seems to have been picked as cover for Ravindra Jadeja. I don’t see him getting a game unless Jadeja gets injured though – Ashwin’s potential replacement is more likely to be Harbhajan Singh. To some extent this is indicative of the importance of Jadeja’s role in the team – in many ways he is the key to India winning the T20 World Cup.
Mohammed Shami: This is an extraordinary display of faith in Shami, as well as Bumrah and Nehra. Shami hasn’t played international cricket in close to a year – so to pick him for this tournament (he isn’t even playing the India vs Sri Lanka T20Is) is a tremendous show of faith. Bumrah has had a great past couple of games, but only made his international debut two weeks ago. Similarly, Nehra hadn’t played international cricket since 2011 before getting picked for the Australia series. To my mind, Bhuvneshwar is a more stable back-up pick (even though I think Shami is a better bowler), but the selectors clearly think Shami can get the job done.
No leg spinners: I would have liked to see Amit Mishra or Piyush Chawla in this squad. As things stand, there are three left arm spinners (Jadeja, Yuvraj and Negi), and three off-spinners (Ashwin, Harbhajan and Raina). A leg spinner could have been an attacking option for Dhoni, especially given how Mishra performed in the last T20 World Cup. He’s had a decent Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy as well. The same goes for perennial World Cup squad member Piyush Chawla. I’d have picked either of them ahead of Harbhajan, who isn’t exactly making a compelling case to be selected. Harbhajan’s batting could have been the deciding factor in his selection – though I feel that India’s batting line-up is strong enough. The selectors should have picked a bowler who was most likely to win games for India with his primary skill.
Final thoughts: With the India vs Sri Lanka series starting in a few days, Manish Pandey and Bhuvneshwar Kumar face the unenviable task of playing a series, knowing that they haven’t been picked for the T20 World Cup. In a case of bad social media management, the BCCI decided to wish Bhuvneshwar Kumar on his birthday, right before they tweeted the news that he had been dropped. On a more positive note though, Pawan Negi is likely to get a far bigger contract in tomorrow’s IPL auction!
Finally, here’s a look at Sachin Tendulkar’s views on the T20 squad, and Dhoni’s captaincy. Happy watching!