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Picking India’s First XI For The 2022 T20 WC

Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli
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Following the chaos and commotion of IPL 2022, the attention shifts towards the international cricket calendar as the Indian cricket team begin their T20 World Cup preparations with a five-match T20 series at home against South Africa.

While there is still plenty of T20 cricket to be played between now and October, here is how we think the Men in Blue should line up at the World Cup in Australia.

Top Order – Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli


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Following their disappointing performances in the IPL, there has been a lot of talk that Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli should be dropped from India’s T20 WC squad. However, despite their struggles in Indian conditions, Rohit and Kohli are still two of India’s best options at the top of the order in Australia due to their ability to take on the pacers. The bouncy conditions down under will be vastly different to those seen during the IPL, and Rohit and Kohli’s experience and proficiencies against the short ball make them a lock in the first XI.

Joining Rohit to open the innings is KL Rahul, who has scored over 590 runs in each of the last five IPLs and can be India’s most destructive batter if empowered to play with high intent.

Middle Order – Rishabh Pant, Suryakumar Yadav


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With three right-handers in the top three, team India need a left-hander at number four to break the monotony, and Rishabh Pant is the perfect candidate for this role due to his ability to take on the spinners through the middle overs. Pairing Pant with one of Rohit/KL/Kohli gives India more tactical flexibility through the middle, preventing teams from attacking the Men in Blue with a litany of left-arm orthodox and leg-spinners. 

At number five is Suryakumar Yadav, who has established himself as a vital cog for team India and the Mumbai Indians over the past two years. The right-hander is one of the most dynamic and high-intent batters in the Indian set-up – striking at 165 in T20I’s – and is equally dangerous against pace and spin. 

All-Rounders – Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja


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Team India’s primary Achilles heel during their last World Cup run was the lack of bowling options and the limited fitness of Hardik Pandya, forcing the all-rounder to play as a specialist batter. However, following Pandya’s exploits in IPL 2022, the Gujarat Titans skipper is expected to reprise his role at number six as India’s sixth bowling option and finisher with the bat.

At number seven, team India have lesser options to choose from, with very few players able to provide 2-3 overs and reliably contribute with the bat in Australian conditions. Axar Patel and Deepak Hooda are two options India can use, but the only player who fits this role is Ravindra Jadeja. Although his performances dropped off massively in IPL 2022, Jadeja affords the team a left-arm spin option through the middle along with someone who can smash pace at the death.

Bowlers – Harshal Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohsin Khan


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In the bowling department, the one player who is a certainty to start is Jasprit Bumrah. The Mumbai Indians pacer is arguably one of the two best bowlers in T20 cricket, and his performances in Australia will play a major factor in deciding how far team India goes in the tournament.

Which bowlers accompany Bumrah in the bowling attack is more of a question mark.

Amongst the spinners, Ravi Bishnoi, Rahul Chahar, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin have all shown some promise in the IPL over the last few seasons, but the frontrunner for the spot at the moment is Yuzvendra Chahal. The leg-spinner won the purple cap in IPL 2022 – picking up 27 wickets in 17 matches – and can also be reliably used by Rohit Sharma in all three phases of an innings – powerplay, middle overs and at the death.

Amongst the pacers, Harshal Patel has emerged as a genuine option as a second seamer, with the RCB pacer picking up 51 wickets in his last two seasons in the IPL at an economy of under eight. Patel’s usage of slower deliveries and cutters has made him one of the best death bowlers in the Indian set-up, and a pairing of Bumrah and Harshal at the death could be incredibly dangerous for the opposition.

With Bumrah and Harshal Patel primarily used in the back half of the innings, India’s third pacer should be majorly used in the powerplay and middle overs as an enforcer. While there are our more established names who could perform this role – Avesh Khan, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar – the one wildcard pick we recommend is Lucknow Super Giants pacer Mohsin Khan.

While it may be a massive risk to play Mohsin on a small sample size of evidence, the left-armer was incredibly impressive in IPL 2022 and should get a chance to prove himself in India colours ahead of the World Cup. Khan has a rare skill-set amongst Indian bowlers as he can swing the ball both ways, bowl up to 150kph and provide the left-arm angle.

In IPL 2022, Khan finished with the second-best economy rate amongst all bowlers who sent down a minimum of 30 overs (5.97) and also took wickets with 6.3% of his balls in the powerplay – the fifth-best wicket rate in the league. With Khan in the side, Rohit Sharma and India gain a more well-rounded bowling attack, allowing Bumrah and Harshal to be saved for the slog overs and giving the captain three pacers who excel in different phases of the innings.

Although this team is likely to change based on form and fitness in the four months leading up to the World Cup, considering the conditions expected in Australia, this XI might be India’s best chance of winning their first T20 title since 2007.


[Featured Image Credit: Indian Cricket Team]