Future proofing: India seek Surya solace

Fewer than 100 hours post the World Cup final, both finalists get ready to joust again, this time in the five-match T20I series
'I told the squad let us be selfless when you go on to the field...': Suryakumar Yadav. (File photo| AFP)
'I told the squad let us be selfless when you go on to the field...': Suryakumar Yadav. (File photo| AFP)

CHENNAI:  “IT’S okay... relax everyone... we have this..,” reads one of many Instagram stories of Glenn Maxwell in the wee hours of Wednesday. In the background is Adam Zampa, sleeping on the couch. His next picture is Travis Head, sleeping with the World Cup medal. A couple of hours ago, Head had posted a picture of him and Zampa with caption — we ain’t leaving.

None of this should surprise anyone. After all, it had been less than 72 hours since they had their best day of their cricketing careers... beating India in front of 92,000-plus fans to win their sixth World Cup title. Which is why, despite having to turn up at Visakhapatnam on Thursday for the first of five bilateral T20Is against India, they were having a blast. For all you know, they might not even start in the playing XI for the first game. Nor should they be expected to after winning the World Cup less than 100 hours ago. And they have enough players in the squad to take on India in the first game.

The Indian camp, however, is not the same. Neither is the squad. With Hardik Pandya ruled out for at least another month, Suryakumar Yadav will be leading a bunch of youngsters who had won the gold in the Asian Games. There are a few spill overs from the WC squad — Ishan Kishan, Prasidh Krishna and Shreyas Iyer (for the last two games) — as well. Although it seems like an inconsequential T20I series, zoom out a little and one can see the bigger picture.

There is a T20 World Cup in about six months. Rohit Sharma hasn’t played the format since the last edition and it is still not clear if he will. In the absence of Hardik, it is the beginning of a new cycle where India test their bench strength against one of the stronger teams in the world. Can Yashasvi Jasiwal and Ruturaj Gaikwad take on Jason Behrendorff up front? Is there space for Jitesh Sharma? Will Tilak Varma and Rinku Singh launch the Australians like they did against West Indies and Ireland, respectively? Is Shivam Dube expected to continue as a spin basher? How will the pace attack featuring Arshdeep Singh, Mukesh Kumar and Avesh Khan fare? And then there is the return of Axar Patel and Washington Sundar. This group of players could likely be a part of the larger pool from which the T20 World Cup squad will be selected six months down the line. With the T20I team touring South Africa and playing at home against Afghanistan over the next 60 days, what better way to get them started than against Australia?

Despite the “disappointment” of the loss on Sunday, that is what stand-in captain Surya said on the eve of the game. “I met the squad today (Wednesday). I told them let us be selfless when you go on to the field. I am a guy who doesn’t think about personal milestones. I have told them to keep the team first. Keeping the (2024) T20 World Cup in mind, all the games we are going to play are very important,” he told reporters at Visakhapatnam.

If the World Cup is at one end, the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction is around the corner and this could well be the stage for some of the players — Indian and Australian — to throw their hat in the ring and rise the stakes. After all, recency bias has led to overseas players go for big money in mini auctions. Head, who is still buzzing from the glory of Sunday, is expected to do that as well. Which is why, over the next ten days, despite the little excitement, there is a lot to look forward to when India and Australia go up against each other

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