MUMBAI: Continuity and clarity in roles is what the senior national selection committee will look at in the Indian T20 team as they sit down on Sunday to pick the squad for the upcoming series against South Africa beginning on June 9. A day before the meeting, there was still no clarity over whether all the senior players would be rested for the series with an eye on the England tour and workload management.
Having paid the price for some inconsistency in selection calls ahead of the 2019 50-over World Cup and the T20 World Cup in the UAE last year, the plan is to not repeat any of these past mistakes with the management understood to be in favour of giving adequate opportunities to all in the lead up to this year’s edition to be hosted by Australia in October-November.
While a roadmap for the World Cup is understood to be already made, those in the know indicated that the selectors would sit with captain Rohit Sharma to finalise a pool of players. There are doubts over Virat Kohli’s availability for the series against South Africa as he is set to have discussions with the team management and selectors.
There is a strong likelihood that Kohli could be rested for the T20s against South Africa before he joins the team in the UK for the one-off Test against England.
As previously reported by this newspaper, the former captain still remains very much part of India’s plans for the T20 World Cup Down Under, but that could change if he prefers taking a break.
That said, while the team management prefers to have a batting line-up that is as flexible as possible, they are also keen on identifying specific roles and avoiding the constant shuffling, especially at the top of the order, where KL Rahul and Rohit are set to be the preferred openers.
Although several young players have impressed during the ongoing edition of the IPL, the selectors are not keen on fast-tracking anyone. While they may be incorporated in the side for the two T20Is against Ireland, sources close to the development revealed that Plan A is to back the experienced ones with the likes of Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik set to be recalled.
With the all-rounder making vital contributions with the bat and bowling regularly – he hasn’t bowled in the recent games because of a niggle – India believes he would have a big role to play in the lower middle-order. That area has been a cause of concern for the team in the past, especially with regard to the finisher’s role. In that aspect, with Karthik proving his worth once again at the IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore, the stumper is likely to be among those in contention.
As things stand, the Tamil Nadu player stands a good chance to pip Sanju Samson for the second wicketkeeper slot as Rahul is unlikely to take up the keeper's gloves going forward.
In the bowling front, unlike last time when the selectors picked the likes of Rahul Chahar and Varun Chakravarthy for the T20 World Cup, this time the place seems to be locked for Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.
With Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin too in the mix, a few difficult decisions are set to be taken. While wrist-spinners have traditionally done well in Australian conditions, among the two all-rounders, Ashwin has had a better season for Rajasthan Royals.