Immediately after their early T20 World Cup exit, India began gearing up for the series against New Zealand which will be played on home soil. This new look Team India led by new captain Rohit Sharma in the shortest format of the game and with the great Rahul Dravid in the dugout will take on the Black Caps in a three-match T20I series that begins on November 17.
India suffered an embarrassing defeat against the Kiwis in the T20 World Cup. That loss coupled with the humiliation faced against Pakistan in their opening fixture made it virtually impossible for the Men in Blue to qualify for the semi-finals. Although they did give a great account of themselves against Afghanistan and managed to register resounding victories against Minnows Scotland and Namibia, it wasn't enough.
For the series against New Zealand, several key players have been rested because of their continuous participation in bio-bubbles since the Test series against England. Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, and Ravindra Jadeja are a few names on that list.
This has allowed the Board of Control for Cricket in India to provide opportunities to fresh talents. Ruturaj Gaikwad, Venkatesh Iyer, Avesh Khan, and Harshal Patel who have enjoyed plenty of success in IPL 2021 have been given the nod.
However, several talented players who are T20 specialists have also missed out as a result. There's little else that these players could've done to convince the selectors but for some reason, they continue to be denied consistent opportunities.
Following the painful exit at the T20 World Cup, India should've learned their lessons on correcting their approach for the T20I game. But as far as the team selection is concerned with the BCCI picking as many as five openers and not enough middle-order hitters, it suggests that Team India will continue to make the same mistakes.
Without further ado, let's take a look at the players who deserved a call-up to the T20I side:
What more does Sanju Samson need to do in order to get selected to the Indian side and given a strong run of games? While it's true that the power-hitter known for his exceptionally clean hitting ability has suffered from bouts of inconsistency in the past, his most recent IPL season has produced a dramatic turnaround.
Ahead of IPL 2021, Samson was handed the captaincy of the Rajasthan Royals side. That added responsibility might've pushed a different switch in the wicket-keeper batter's circuit and the result was there for all to see. This time around, we saw a more grounded version of Sanju who was the lone warrior in an otherwise frail Rajasthan Royals batting setup.
He recorded 484 runs this season at an average of 40.33 – his best numbers in IPL. Samson was among the highest scorers this season and instead of going all guns blazing from the first ball, he showed enough restraint and composure to suggest that he understands the responsibility of taking the game deep.
He's also a clean striker against spinners which is an area of the game where India have struggled recently. The Kerala-born cricketer has an average of over 45 and a strike rate of over 144 against spinners in the Indian Premier League since 2020.
Even in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, the 27-year-old had recorded 175 runs at an average of 87.5 and at a strike rate of 147.05. Samson is also a more than decent wicket-keeper and a gun outfielder. And yet, in the absence of Rishabh Pant, who has been rested for this series, it was Ishan Kishan who received the nod instead of Samson as wicket-keeper batter.
Following his non-selection, Sanju did post a cryptic tweet where he shared an a three-image collage of him making athletic jumps and taking catches on the boundary rope.
Despite his complete and abject failures in Test cricket on the tour of Australia, make no mistake, Prithvi Shaw is a force to be reckoned with in limited-overs cricket. Few batters in India have the explosive ability, the intent, and the technique that Prithvi Shaw possesses. If the Men in Blue want to win the T20 World Cup next year, they will have to adopt an approach of taking the assault to the bowlers as early as possible and in almost all phases of the game.
That is exactly the kind of mindset that Shaw lives and dies by. He has never been shy of taking on even the fastest and most reputed bowlers in IPL and as long as he is on the crease, the scoring rate never stagnates. In 15 matches in IPL 2021, the 22-year-old has scored 479 runs at an average of over 31 and at a phenomenal strike rate close to 160. This was the best IPL season of his career and he has been making constant progress.
With the national team, the Mumbai-born batter has experienced a topsy-turvy ride. He has been snubbed frequently because of inconsistency and much like Samson, needs to make a case for himself with splendid and consistent performances.
While it's true that India are well-compensated as far as the opening spots are concerned with Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, KL Rahul, and Rohit Sharma all vying for the two spots, Prithvi Shaw has the ability to add the X-factor to the team.
Speaking of X factors, mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy has made a name for himself because of his ability to deceive opposition batters in this format of the game. Riding on the back of extremely impressive and consistent performances in IPL, especially in 2021 where he led Kolkata Knight Riders to the final, Varun Chakravarthy found himself a berth in India's squad for the T20 World Cup.
Although he finished wicketless after the first two matches against Pakistan and New Zealand, he didn't bowl badly. It's quite obvious that because of the low totals, none of the Indian bowlers had enough room to work with to put the pressure on the opposition batters.
While there are no doubts regarding his talent and ability, there are plenty of questions surrounding his fitness. These fitness issues have surfaced time and again during the Indian Premier League as well as with the Indian setup. While it's still not clear whether he has been rested because of fitness concerns or has been dropped from the side, one should certainly hope it's the former because the Tamil Nadu-born mystery spinner adds something to the Indian T20I setup that no one else does.