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Select T20 Team: Should Pant replace Rahul?

By HARISH KOTIAN
Last updated on: March 10, 2021 10:17 IST
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Rishabh Pant

IMAGE: Rishabh Pant is likely to take over from K L Rahul who donned the gloves in the limited overs series in Australia. Photograph: BCCI
 

Fresh from victory in the Tests against England, India will hope to repeat the performance in the five game T20 series which will begin their build up to this year's T20 World Cup at home later this year.

Captain Virat Kohli and Coach Ravi Shastri have no shortage of options with a pool of 19 players to pick their playing XI from for the series opener at the N M stadium in Ahmedabad on Friday, March 12.

Rishabh Pant's smashing performances in the Test series in Australia and England brings him into the mix for the England T20s. He was dropped from both the Indian ODI and T20 teams last year after a string of below-par performances with both bat and gloves.

After his brilliance in Australia and England, Pant is likely to take over from K L Rahul who was India's wicket-keeper in limited overs cricket last year, but is now likely to play as a pure batsman.

Rahul is set to open the innings with Rohit Sharma who missed the T20 games in Australia with injury. Rahul has a terrific record as the opener for Kings XI Punjab in the IPL in the last couple of years and has done well for India recently in white ball cricket.

Shikhar Dhawan opened in both the T20I and ODI series in Australia, but with Rohit back, he is expected to be left out. However, Dhawan recently stroked a brilliant 153 for Delhi against Maharashtra in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, the domestic one-day tournament, so don't rule out 'Gabbar' just yet.

Kohli is likely to play at No 3 with Shreyas Iyer set to follow him. Iyer's Mumbai team-mate Suryakumar Yadav is likely to spend the first few games on the bench and could only get a game if India decide to try out all their players.

There was a hue and cry when Yadav was not picked for the Australia T20s following a superb showing in the IPL for the Mumbai Indians, but the selectors could no longer ignore him after the right-hander hit a century (133) and two fifties in five matches for Mumbai in the Vijay Hazare tournament.

Then there is the Jharkhand dasher Ishan Kishan, who impressed with his fine showing for Mumbai Indians in IPL 2020. The left-hander smashed 516 runs in the IPL last year at an average of 57; he blasted 173 from 94 balls, hitting 19 fours and 11 sixes, for Jharkhand in the Vijay Hazare Trophy match against Madhya Pradesh to force his way into the Indian T20 team.

It would be exciting to see Kishan and Pant take on the bowlers at the interntional level, especially keeping an eye on the World T20 later this year.

In the bowling department, India have been boosted by the return of experienced pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar who has spent considerable time on the sidelines due to his injury. He could replace either Deepak Chahar or Shardul Thakur, who have been regulars for India in the limited overs format recently.

Yuzvendra Chahal will relish a chance to get back playing for India in the T20 format. Spinners Washington Sundar and Axar Patel could also be picked in a three-man spin attack because of their all-round abilities.

Who do you think should be part of India's playing XI in Friday's first T20 International against England?

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HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com
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