The Indian team selectors named their 18-man squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup earlier in September and there were a few surprises in a team that is spoilt for choices. Few controversies erupted after the announcement only for Virat Kohli to come out and disclose his intentions of stepping down as the T20 captain post the World Cup in November. Since the announcement, players like Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rishabh Pant are constantly under the microscope to see how they are faring in the ongoing Indian T20 League.
The selectors won’t be overly impressed with the lack of form of some of these players who have been selected for the World Cup and they’ll be in deep discussions trying to find ways to fix this mess. They still have time till October 10, to name a few replacements if they deem necessary.
Let’s look at five such players who are underperforming in the current Indian T20 League edition.
The biggest concern for Team India ahead of the World Cup would be the form and fitness status of one of the mainstays, Hardik Pandya. The all-rounder hasn’t bowled a single ball in this second edition and that is a huge concern for selectors. The balance of the squad goes for a toss if Pandya cannot bowl. The selectors have picked just three fast bowlers in the squad and a lot hinges on Pandya’s fitness. His form with the bat hasn’t been a positive either as he has managed to score just 117 runs from 10 innings at an unusually low strike-rate of 112.50.
In the past few years, Suryakumar Yadav has been amongst the highest run-getters in the Indian T20 League consistently but this season the situation is a bit different. No wonder Team Mumbai struggled to qualify for the playoffs. In 13 matches, Yadav has scored 235 runs and that includes just one half-century.
In the first phase, Team Mumbai did have to play the majority of their matches on a tough slow track in Chennai but even in the second leg in the UAE, Surya struggled to kick on. He had a wonderful 2020 campaign at the same venue where he bulldozed his way into the Indian team. His impact was such that he made Virat Kohli relinquish his preferred number 3 spot in the batting order. He surely needs to pull his socks up if he wants to play any part in an Indian team trying to win the World Cup.
Another Mumbai batter who has been hopelessly out of form this season has been Ishan Kishan. He was dropped for a couple of games very recently but made his way in the lineup in the match against Team Rajasthan. He got his solitary fifty on his comeback and it is a positive for both Team Mumbai and India. The form of fellow wicketkeeper-batter Sanju Samson will be a concern for Kishan, who’d be hoping to retain his spot in the World Cup squad. For that, he needs to end the tournament on a high. Skipper Kohli was seen chatting with him post the match against Bangalore and surely those words of encouragement would help Kishan get out of that bad patch.
At the end of the first phase of the Indian T20 League, Rahul Chahar was the leading wicket-taker in the spin department and rightfully earned his spot in the World Cup squad. His inclusion meant that India’s highest wicket-taker in the T20 format, Yuzvendra Chahal was omitted from the squad that sent shockwaves throughout the country. Since the resumption of the second phase, Chahar has failed to deliver having picked only two wickets so far and has been dropped from the previous two games. On the other hand, Yuzvendra Chahal seems to be in the form of his life and rediscovered his mojo. Pressure is certainly on the selectors to take a call on this leg-spinner spot.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar is a bowler who has been horrendously off-colour in this Indian T20 League. In 11 matches, Kumar has picked up just six wickets and that is ridiculously low for a player of his calibre. His death bowling has also been wayward so far but the latest match he played against Team Bangalore would give confidence to the Indian supporters. There’s plenty of expectations from the swing bowler and he needs to up his confidence leading up to the World Cup.