New Delhi, Sep 13: On Monday, India announced their squad for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia, starting from next month. Compared to last year's edition in the UAE and Oman, Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid will be captain and coach respectively.
Despite not making it to the final of Asia Cup 2022 in the UAE, India's squad was largely expected to have no surprises, big or small.
From the squad which went to Asia Cup 2022, the pace duo of Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel come back after recovering from injuries and passing fitness tests. The duos return is a big boost for India, especially when the bowling attack lacked teeth in Asia Cup.
India's trust over young left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh was seen when he was retained in the 15-man squad, with Deepak Chahar and Mohammed Shami slotted in as reserve players.
Arshdeep had been superb with his yorkers in the death overs, as seen in IPL and in international matches since his debut in July. With Bumrah, Harshal, Arshdeep, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and all-rounder Hardik Pandya, Rohit has a varied pace attack for Mission Australia though they miss an out-and-out pace option in someone like an Umran Malik.
In terms of batting, the top three of Rohit, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli will continue, which is the same make-up from India's Super 12 exit at the 2021 Men's T20 World Cup.
Since then, a lot has been said about India embracing a new, aggressive, ultra-attacking batting approach. But the issue is that the trio is yet to click in unison in T20Is this year.
Suryakumar Yadav, with his 360-degree shots, has the ability to up the batting tempo. Then there is Deepak Hooda, who has grabbed his chances in the Indian jersey in whatever ways he's got them. Apart from his hard-hitting batting, he also provides part-time off-spin option, which is a necessity especially with Ravindra Jadeja unavailable after undergoing knee surgery.
But Hooda will be in competition with 'keeping duo of Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant over the middle-order slots, considering the top four of Rohit, Rahul, Virat and Suryakumar with Pandya as all-rounder.
Karthik made the first big step towards fulfilling his dream of winning the T20 World Cup by getting the nod for the squad on the back of his superlative finishing skills in IPL 2022 and in T20Is for India, a story which speaks volumes about power of persistence.
Pant, on the other hand, has made the cut despite not many impressive performances in the format, with him having the benefit of being the only left-handed batter in the side apart from all-rounder Axar Patel, a like-for-like replacement for Jadeja, whose impactful batting, accurate left-arm spin bowling and fantastic fielding will be missed badly.
Axar is also a part of India's spin troika alongside leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. Picking Ashwin meant that there was no space of Ravi Bishnoi in the main squad, who's slotted in the reserves.
Injury concerns to Bumrah and Harshal meant Shami is also in the reserves despite not having played a single T20I since last year's World Cup.
With him having played little international cricket this year, Shami along with Chahar find themselves in India's squad for T20Is at home against Australia and South Africa with Arshdeep, Bhuvneshwar and Pandya rotated around these two series for conditioning work at NCA.
Shreyas Iyer's inclusion as a batting stand-by also raises eyebrows, especially with his short-ball issues and Australia pitches full of pace and bounce with bowlers tending to hit the deck hard.
It's even more surprising as Sanju Samson, who had been backed by Rohit to be advantageous in Australian conditions ahead of first T20I against Sri Lanka in Lucknow this year, is nowhere near the reserves.
With the playing squad of 15 not having any element of surprise, India's real challenge will be getting their eleven right in the World Cup. They will have to find out which combination gives them the batting depth as well as the six bowling options.
Since winning the inaugural Men's T20 World Cup in South Africa in 2007, India haven't won the trophy.
Moreover, since winning the 2013 Champions Trophy in England, India haven't won an ICC trophy. Come October 2022, when India take the field against Pakistan in their first Super 12 match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the dream of doing an encore of 2007 will be expected from this full-strength, no surprises squad.
India have the resources in hand; now it's time for optimum utilisation of it.
India squad for ICC Men's T20 World Cup: Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel and Arshdeep Singh.
Standby players - Mohammed Shami, Shreyas Iyer, Ravi Bishnoi and Deepak Chahar.