The Men in Blue will go head to head against Sri Lanka on their home soil. A 20-man squad has been announced by BCCI for this limited-over tour. This team will be led by the skipper Shikhar Dhawan and vice-captain Bhuvneshwar Kumar. With the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, and Ravindra Jadeja preparing to face England next month it wasn’t surprising to see uncapped players making their way into this tour. Another noticeable change in this tour will be Rahul Dravid’s management. It will be a big challenge for him to bring out a balanced team with such refined and inexperienced talent. There are four major aspects and dimensions in this squad.
1) No place for Dinesh Karthik and Priyam Garg
With the likes of Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul, and Ishan Kishan rising through the ranks of Indian Cricket, Dinesh Karthik has been struggling with his form in IPL. Even if Karthik is considered as a batsman rather than a traditional wicket-keeping batsman he is still unable to find his place among top-performing batsmen in India. Karthik has been reliable down the middle order, a batsman who can offer stability in times of gloom and despair. However, his recent form with the IPL franchise KKR has only brought misfortune for him. After barely retaining his place in the squad he still has to prove his worth. With the T20 World Cup approaching Karthik’s performance in the remainder of the IPL will be his only shot at his redemption.
On the other hand, Priyam Garg has been impressive for Rajasthan Royals is still struggling to make his way into the Indian squad. This tour has offered a chance for a lot of uncapped players to make their international debut. But Priyam Garg still hunts for his opportunity. Still, at 20 years old Priyam has a lot of time to improve on his game and make his way up to the top.
2) Experienced Batting Cavalry
Overall the 20 man squad may look like an inexperienced set of players. Yet this squad has its own quality in terms of experience. Dhawan may be leading the Indian team for the first time but he has ample experience which he has gained throughout his career. Manish Pandey is another batsman who brings out his technical gifts on the crease. Pandey chooses his delivery to find the boundary and elevate the pressure off his team. Manish may not be a quick scorer but the ODI format suits his game perfectly. This format gives him ample time to bring out the best of himself. ODI format will also be an audition platform for his T20 spot.
3) Eying for a Comeback
Finally, Bhuvneshwar Kumar a player whose career has been disrupted with injuries throughout his career. As he runs against time to take his place in the squad against England Bhuvneshwar has to bring his A-game In every match. A bowler who has the ability to swing it both ways can prove to be the hidden key for India’s victory. With Bumrah’s disappointing performance at World Test Championship, Bhuvneshwar’s chances get a huge boost. Another player who looks for a comeback is Kuldeep Yadav. After his reduced game time in IPL, Kuldeep has lost the trust of his captain and management. With almost no game time Kuldeep must be feeling that he has been side-lined for almost an eternity. But this tour gives him his chance to earn that lost trust again. Such chances are hard to come by in such a competitive environment. Yet here is Kuldeep who can turn his career around with a single tour. His recent form has not been up to the mark, after a wicket-less match and conceding over 8 runs per over Kuldeep has to trust in his
abilities. Kuldeep has managed to get 18 wickets in 19 ODI, 4 wickets in 3 T20, and 2 wickets in one Test match. Kuldeep has to get his confidence back and find his former self.
4) Building the future
Chetan Sakariya, Padikkal, Nitish Rana, and Gaikwad the future generation of the Indian Cricket team can leave their mark with this tour. A spot in playing 11 may be hard to come by. But if the opportunity presents itself they have to make the most of it. Sakariya has to make most of it as the Indian team has an in-depth bowling reserve. Padikkal’s consistent form may come in handy in this tour. Gaikwad has 5 centuries in 13 IPL matches making him a serious contender in the T20 squad. Finally, Nitish Rana an explosive, as well as flexible batsman, has already struck 13 half-centuries in IPL which equals to the record of Sachin Tendulkar, Yusuf Pathan, and Yuvraj Singh. All these players have an opportunity to give their careers a dream start.
Pic credits: business standard.com, times of India, ESPNcricinfo