The Covid-19 pandemic has put a halt to almost all the major sporting events in the world right now and cricket is no exception to it. With almost no match to watch, it is becoming quite hard to get by, but we can still maintain our enthusiasm and look forward to the forthcoming T20 World Cup in Australia which is just a few months away. All the teams started preparing for it as soon as the ODI World Cup ended last year in July.
The Indian team has also been delivering its best since then and that is backed up by their 5-0 whitewash over New Zealand in the most recent T20I series. But it’s still worthwhile to break down and analyse each of their departments to identify and possibly iron out any minor chink they might have in their armour. So, we will have a look at their major departments in the form of a five-part series. In part 1, we will analyse how their top-order (positions 1 to 3) is shaping up as compared to the other teams going to feature in the World Cup.
Since the end of the 50-over World Cup last year, India have played eight batsmen– KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Shivam Dube, Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer and Sanju Samson — between positions 1 and 3 in T20Is. However, only Rahul, Rohit, Kohli and Dhawan have batted in 10 or more innings at these positions having scored 200 or more runs.
So, the other four are automatically ruled out of getting a shot at these positions during the mega event unless the first four names are down with injuries. Dube’s name is worth mentioning here though. He has 57 runs in just two innings at No.3 and he has scored a fifty in one of those outings. The other three batsmen — Iyer, Pant and Samson — haven’t quite been able to capitalize on their chances in the limited number of opportunities given to them in these positions.
Coming back to the first four names again, each of them are strong contenders of starting in the top three. But three positions mean one of them will definitely have to sit out. So who is that going to be? Let’s find out.
One among these names is that of skipper Virat Kohli. He is definitely not going to sit out of the top order. His overall career numbers tell that he is one of the best in the business at No.3. Moreover, he has scored 348 T20I runs since the end of the World Cup last year and that too at an excellent average of 49.71.
So it is down to the trio of Rohit, Rahul and Dhawan to make their case for the two opening spots. Now everyone knows that Rohit Sharma is a mainstay at the top of the format for India in both T20Is and ODIs. Hence, his spot is also sealed. Moreover, his tally of 442 T20I runs since the 2019 World Cup at a healthy average and strike-rate of 34.00 and 144.91 respectively only makes his case stronger.
Now the tussle is only between Rahul and Dhawan. And going by their numbers for the aforementioned timeframe, Rahul beats the southpaw by a huge margin. While Rahul has 582 runs during this period at an outstanding average and strike-rate of 48.50 and 141.60 respectively, Dhawan has 278 runs to his name at quite a meagre average and strike-rate of 27.80 and 118.80 respectively.
So, going by these numbers, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul should open the innings for India with Virat Kohli slotting in at his usual No.3 position. But all of us know about Kohli and the Indian team management’s affinity towards Dhawan. If he goes on to perform well in the upcoming matches prior to the World Cup, he could edge out Rahul to get the opening spot once again.
Written by : Prasenjit Dey