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Should India pick Gaikwad, Iyer for 1st T20?

November 16, 2021 17:30 IST
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IMAGE: Venkatesh Iyer was a big hit in the second leg of IPL 2021 in the UAE, hitting four half-centuries in 10 matches for a total of 370 runs for the Kolkata Knight Riders. Photograph: BCCI

A new era kicks off in Indian cricket with the legendary Rahul Dravid taking over as head coach while Rohit Sharma starts his captaincy reign in the T20 format in the three-match series against New Zealand, starting in Jaipur on Wednesday.

After India's lacklustre showing in the T20 World Cup under Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri, the Rohit-Dravid combine will look to get India back in the scheme of things in the shortest format, targetting the T20 World Cup in Australia next year.

Batting mainstay Kohli, who relinquished the captaincy in the T20 format, has been rested along with seniors like Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami, which allows India the option of trying out some of the best performers from the IPL.

India have a lot of young and exciting options for the three-match T20I series against the Kiwis. There is Venkatesh Iyer, who set the second leg of IPL 2021 ablaze with his big-hitting and is in line to take over the seam bowling all-rounder's role from Hardik Pandya, who was dropped after his poor showing in the World Cup.

Ruturaj Gaikwad is another interesting prospect, who will be hard to ignore after his exploits with the bat for champions Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, and also for Maharashtra in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament recently.

There is also the aggressive Ishan Kishan in the mix, but he is likely to bat in the middle order, which also comprises of the dependable Mumbai duo of Suryakumar Yadav and Shreyas Iyer.

With Rohit and K L Rahul the two designated openers for India, it will be interesting to see if the versatile Gaikwad replaces either of them as the opener against the Kiwis or takes over the No 3 role in Kohli's absence.

India's sedate approach with the bat came in for a lot of criticism in the first two matches of the T20 World Cup against Pakistan and New Zealand. It remains to be seen if the new faces in the team stand up to the challenge and deliver the goods with the bat in the T20s.

Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal's omission for the World Cup surprised everyone. His replacements Varun Chakravarthy and Rahul Chahar failed miserably in the World Cup, forcing the selectors to go back to the ever-reliable Chahal, who was quite impressive for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the second leg of IPL 2021.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel form a strong spin line-up for the hosts, and there could be an option of playing all three spinners if the pitch offers some turn.

Pace bowlers Avesh Khan, Deepak Chahar and Harshal Patel were also rewarded for their fine showing in the IPL, and they will been keen to make their mark at the highest level.

Mohammed Siraj will look to make most of the rare opportunity in the limited overs format after impressing at the Test level for India.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar gets another chance after he failed in the opening match against Pakistan and was snubbed for the remainder of the T20 World Cup.

Probable XI: Rohit Sharma, K L Rahul, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Venkatesh Iyer, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Chahar, Harshal Patel.

Who do you think should be part of India's playing XI for Wednesday's opening T20I against New Zealand?

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