SA T20 series: Time ripe to try Rinku, Jaiswal for bigger challenges

There are only three T20Is left against Afghanistan for selectors to look for options

Suryakumar Yadav, en route to his fourth century in T20Is at Johannesburg on Friday. (Photo: BCCI)
Suryakumar Yadav, en route to his fourth century in T20Is at Johannesburg on Friday. (Photo: BCCI)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

The three-match T20I series saw India bouncing back in style in the final game to end it 1-1, but the selectors will be more interested in the takeaways ahead of the T20 World Cup next June. There are only three more T20I games left after this against Afghanistan, though they have the option of taking some cues from the early stages of IPL. 

A lot will, of course, depend on the kind of roadmap that BCCI want to take to end the 10-year drought of a major ICC title. Keeping aside the performance of stand-in captain Suryakumar Yadav, the Player of the Series, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Rinku Singh have continued to improve with each passing game. The later’s 39-ball 68 in the second game hardly betrayed the fact that the Kolkata Knight Riders batter was playing in his 10th international match. 

What, however, was slightly worrying was Shubman Gill’s form as he failed in both the available games. It had been a dream year for the 24-year-old, who is the No.1 ranked batter in ODIs, but could not quite replicate the same form in the T20s where he has been a modest success with 316 runs in 13 games with a century – reaching double figures five times, including a 12 in Thursday’s game at the Wanderers.  

It could be a matter of time before a quality batter like Gill finds his moorings back, but does he necessarily have to go in as an opener in World T20 as well? An educated guess says that Rohit Sharma should be back for what would certainly be his last World Cup in this format, it’s certainly worth to try out either of Jaiswal (my vote) or Ruturaj Gaikwad at the top of the order. It’s again a subject of great speculation whether Virat Kohli has unofficially called time on his ODI career and if he has, Gill could be a right choice as number three.  

While most may argue that a World Cup brings it’s own pressure and there should always be a premium on experience, but there’s no point in hailing these young talents after their performances in bilateral contests and then toeing the predictable line for the big events. It’s high time that the likes of Gaikwad, Jaiswal, Ishan Kishan, Rinku and of course SKY are pencilled in for the World T20. 

While the bench strength in batting is admirable, the same cannot possibly said about the second line of pace attack in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami. If the Indian pace trio was feared during the 50-overs World Cup, the primary reason was their genuine pace they generated with the movement – something which is missing in the likes of Mukesh Kumar and Arshdeep Singh. 

Yes, there are reasons to gloat over the performance of Kuldeep Yadav (5/17) and Ravindra Jadeja (2/25) in the last game. The South Africans’ weakness against wrist spin is well known and both these spinners had been the aces in India’s pack during the opponents’ middle overs of the last World Cup. However, it was somewhat ludicrous to see Ravi Bishnoi, No.1 ranked T20 bowler not getting a game. 

Bishnoi, who was Player of the Series in the recent series against Australia at home, will take the flight home as he is not a part of the ODI series. Yuzvendra Chahal, who missed the cut in the last World Cup, has joined the squad for the upcoming one-dayers.  

Consolation, or a break? The selectors surely can explain this better. 

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