Something momentous has been promised by Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri — that they won’t chop and change anymore until the world cup. It’s against their grain, but starting with the T20 against Australia on Wednesday in Brisbane, India will field their best eleven. “From now on obviously it is going to be much more difficult for others to step in unless there’s any sort of workload issue because till the World Cup we want our XI that’s going to play together to play as long as possible and together in as many numbers of games because there’s not many left,” Kohli said a day before the game. A similar sentiment was echoed by Shastri a day before they flew to Australia.
It means a few things: Khaleel Ahmed, the left-arm seamer mentored by Zaheer Khan will get a consistent run to prove himself; Umesh Yadav would have to wait for an injury to get in; Krunal Pandya will get opportunities and if he does well in the T20 series, would he get ahead of Ravindra Jadeja in the ODI squad, which is yet to be named; Manish Pandey might not last too long in the squad and Rishabh Pant will play as a keeper, which means Dinesh Kartik needs to get cracking on consistently as a batsman if he wants to hang on to his spot in T20.
Considering the world cup is around the corner, it probably would have made more sense had the two countries shelved the T20 series for an extended ODI series but this T20 series would give India, who would start as favourites, to settle the team.
The bowling looks to be in much better shape than it has been in the past. Starting with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah with the new ball. While Bumrah is a natural fit, with his action, bowling style, and his attitude, it’s astounding to see the development of Bhuvneshwar in the shortest format. How often has a medium pace swing bowler, the version he started with, has gone on to develop his arsenal so much (Yorkers, effective bouncers, slower cutters) that he seems almost a natural in this format.