ICC Cricket T20 World Cup-2021: R Ashwin In, Dhawan And Chahal Out Of The Indian Squad!
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) senior selection committee has announced the 15-member Indian team for the ICC T20 World Cup-2021starting from the 17th of October 2021 in Oman and United Arab Emirates. The tournament final is scheduled on 14th November 2021. Indian captain for all formats, Virat Kohli is to lead the team with the rather queer introduction of MS Dhoni as the Mentor of the team—how he is going to perform that duty in the presence of all the coaches is something left to imagination—perhaps this is being done thanks to the tremendous record of Dhoni as the former Indian skipper, his terrific rapport with Virat Kohli and that he will be there anyway due to the staging of the remaining part of the IPL-2021 which was also shifted to the UAE.
This tournament is actually the delayed version of the ICC T20 World Cup-2020 which was originally scheduled in Australia, but had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and later was scheduled in India during the same period, but because of the danger of a Third Wave of the pandemic in India the International Cricket Council (ICC) finally shifted it to the UAE with some matches to be played in Oman. The IPL-2021 too, played in only three venues in India, had to be halted midway due to the disastrous COVID-19 Second Wave and later was scheduled in UAE from 19th of September 2021. Before we go on to the structure of the matches in the ICC T20 World Cup-2021 let us take a look at the Indian squad selected for the tournament.
India Squad for ICC T20 World Cup-2021: Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma (Vice-captain), KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (Wicket-keeper), Ishan Kishan (Wicket-keeper), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Rahul Chahar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Varun Chakravarthy, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami.
Standby Players: Shreyas Iyer, Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur.
The team looks balanced and mostly on the expected lines with KL Rahul likely to open with Vice-captain Rohit Sharma; of course, the reserve wicket-keeper Ishan Kishan is also an opener in the IPL. Here comes the surprising omission of Shikhar Dhawan who had been Rohit’s regular opening partner and whose injury greatly hampered the progress of India in the ICC World Cup-2019. Maybe he did not get the final call due to his a bit not-too-good recent record and also due to the fact that KL Rahul was doing well as an opener in the IPL. However, it must be said that Rahul has been basically a Test opener who had been denied a place till the series against England where he justified his selection; but even if he gets going in the shortest format he fails often to get the momentum going like Dhawan does, and that often hampers the winning chances of the team. Therefore, the decision to drop Dhawan is fraught with danger. If Ishan Kishan plays then there will be two wicket-keepers in the team as Rishabh Pant cannot possibly be dropped.
Likewise, the inclusion of Ravichandran Ashwin is a surprise considering the fact that he has been India’s best Test spinner in recent times and yet he was not played in the Test Series against England. Perhaps the slow and often turning pitches of UAE are being factored in for his selection along with promising spinners Rahul Chahar, Axar Patel and Varun Chakravarthy. The final eleven would depend on the IPL, because all these players will be there playing for their respective teams. Omission of Yazuvendra Chahal is not much of a surprise due to his erratic displays in various matches. India’s regular and seasoned three fast bowlers are figuring obviously in the squad with Hardik Pandya being thrown in to help them as required.
There will be two rounds in the tournament: the first, starting from 17th October 2021, is the qualifying round of 8 teams that have been formed into two groups with two top teams of each group entering the second round of Super-12 that starts from 23rd October. It is to be noted that India being the earlier hosts qualified for Super-12 straightaway, and 7 out of 9 other teams in ICC rankings also qualified directly for the second round. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh could not qualify being at the bottom of the ICC rankings, and both teams figure in the two qualifying groups. Other teams are Ireland, Netherlands, Scotland, Namibia, Oman and Papua New Guinea—the last team playing in the World Cup for the first time. Most of the qualifying matches will be played in Oman.
In the Super-12 stage too there will be two groups of six teams each with both of India and Pakistan placed in Group-2. The qualifying teams are being marked as A1, A2 and B1, B2. All group matches will be played on round-robin basis within each group respectively and top two teams from each group will enter the semi-final stage from which point it will be the knockout stage till the Final on 14th November 2021. With the IPL-2021 matches to be played there till the 15th of October 2021 it would be interesting to see if this bonanza tournament played in the same format, would indeed help the cricketers prepare themselves better for the big international competition or fatigue them including some of the over-played Indian players. It would also be curious to know if all international sides would allow their top players to play on in the IPL or take them for special training sessions. Whatever be the scenario, cricket lovers are in for some great cricket with UAE, fortunately, becoming a safe hotspot for cricket.