Since captain Rohit Sharma and coach Rahul Dravid took charge after the 2021 T20 World Cup last November, India have given opportunities to numerous players, as well as different captains, across formats. The team management has stated its aim of having a good look at the bench strength in the build-up to the 2022 T20 World Cup in October, and injuries and workload management have also played their part in the churn, which has extended to ODIs and Tests too.
After their early exit in the UAE T20 World Cup, India have tried as many as 27 players in 16 T20Is, and 21 each in six ODIs and eight Tests until the Edgbaston Test. We take a look at these players by role and attempt to see if there are some patterns in this churn. (All matches post 2021 T20 WC)
Fast bowlers -T20Is
The new team management has used Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Harshal Patel the most. Deepak Chahar has been out of action since February, and it will be interesting to see where he fits in once he returns, given how good Bhuvneshwar’s recent form has been. Avesh Khan has notably got eight games, which suggests he is being looked at as back-up to the trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar and Harshal. Among absentees, Mohammed Shami hasn’t played T20Is since the 2021 World Cup, and Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Siraj aren’t part of the T20I squad in England. Umran Malik has forced his way in after a standout IPL, and Rohit has said he will be given a run.
Fast bowlers – ODIs
Settled, more or less
In ODIs, Prasidh Krishna, Thakur and Siraj have been utilised under Dravid. Bhuvneshwar hasn’t been in the ODI scheme of things since the South Africa tour, but Avesh and Arshdeep Singh have been given ODI spots for the West Indies tour.
The Test pace attack has been more settled with the likes of Bumrah, Shami, Siraj, Thakur and Umesh Yadav. However, Ishant Sharma hasn’t played since the Kanpur Test last November and Prasidh has made his way into the red-ball squad.
Spinners – T20Is
Four to the fore
When it comes to spinners, Yuzvendra Chahal and Axar Patel have led the way in T20Is, with Ravi Bishnoi also establishing a hold. Ravidra Jadeja was given more batting responsibility during the Sri Lanka series. These four appear to be at the forefront right now, with Washington Sundar and Kuldeep Yadav undergoing rehab for injuries. Rahul Chahar and Varun Chakaravarthy, both part of the 2021 T20 World Cup squad, haven’t played for India since.
Chahal has been the lead spinner in ODIs as well, but with Sundar and Kuldeep not around, Jadeja and Axar will complete the spin trio in England and West Indies. Meanwhile, R Ashwin’s white-ball comeback has stalled as he hasn’t played a game in either format since January.
Kishan cashes in
Ishan Kishan has been the biggest beneficiary of the experimentation with the opening slot in T20Is, as KL Rahul has either been injured or rested mostly. Ruturaj Gaikwad has also got a run of late, with the odd opportunity for Sanju Samson and Deepak Hooda, against Ireland.
A shut case
Shikhar Dhawan, at age 36, continues to be given a role in ODIs, and has also been named captain for the West Indies tour. Consequently, the opening slot in ODIs has been more settled, with both Kishan and Rishabh Pant getting just a solitary go against West Indies at home in February. But with so many seniors rested for the West Indies tour, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Shubman Gill have also been included.
In Tests, until he lost his spot for the England tour before being rushed as last-minute back-up, Mayank Agarwal has been the lone constant with seven games. The other slot has revolved between Rohit, Rahul, Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara.
Nos 3 and 4 – T20Is
The upper middle order has seen ten batsmen tried in this period, with the frontrunners being Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant and Suryakumar Yadav. Virat Kohli has played just two T20Is since November, against West Indies in February, but is part of the squad in England.
Nos 5 and 6 – T20Is
Returns of veterans
Venkatesh Iyer was the preferred choice for the finisher’s role initially, but the comebacks of Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik have pushed him behind. Here again, ten batsmen have been slotted in at various times.
Nos 3 to 6 – ODIs
The middle order has been more stable in ODIs, but there is set to be more flux as Hardik Pandya is back for England, and the likes of Deepak Hooda and Samson are in the second-string squad for the West Indies tour.
The Test middle order has seen the exit of Ajinkya Rahane and the exit and comeback of Pujara, to go with the debut of Shreyas Iyer and the promotion of Hanuma Vihari.
Keepers – T20Is
Pant and the pack
Pant remains the first-choice wicketkeeper in all three formats, with the other contenders usually playing as specialist batsmen whenever they are drafted in for white-ball games. That will change for the West Indies ODIs, of course, as Pant has been rested. Following Wriddhiman Saha’s exit, KS Bharat has become the back-up gloveman in Tests.
India still have a fair number of T20Is to play until the 2022 T20 World Cup, with the England and West Indies tours, plus the Asia Cup and the home series against Australia to follow. And presumably the contours of the eventual World Cup squad will be more visible as we get closer to the event. The three ODIs in West Indies are the last India will play until the October short-format showpiece, and their insignificance shows in how many seniors are sitting out the Caribbean trip.