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Feature

India's T20 World Cup selection questions: Five spots up for intense debate

Ten names are almost certainties, but there is heated competition among the back-up batters, fast bowlers and spinners

Nagraj Gollapudi
08-Sep-2021
File photo: Ishan Kishan and Krunal Pandya in training  •  Sri Lanka Cricket

File photo: Ishan Kishan and Krunal Pandya in training  •  Sri Lanka Cricket

Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal.
It is fair to assume these 10 names will be directly jotted down by the India selectors when they pick the squad for the T20 World Cup. They are likely to pick a 15-member squad along with a group of reserves that will be readily available as replacements in case of injury or if anyone tests positive for Covid-19. So who will the five remaining players vying for various slots be? ESPNcricinfo takes a look at the roles and the various options the selectors are likely to discuss.
Back-up batter
Despite having seven batters, including two allrounders in Hardik and Jadeja, India will aim to have a back-up specialist batter in case one from the main group is out of form or injured. With a crowded top-order including Kohli, who indicated he wouldn't mind opening in the long term having done a stint against England in March - the last time India played a bilateral T20I series - the selectors could look for a floater who can fit into the top or middle order or play the role of finisher. Who would you pick of the following contenders?
Two fast bowlers
Hardik will be the third seamer behind Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar, but India are likely to include at least two more quicks in the squad. As the 2020 IPL showed, the three venues in the UAE, where the T20 World Cup will be played, could favour fast bowling as Jofra Archer and Anrich Nortje's success proved. There are quite a few contenders starting with Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur, both bowling allrounders.
While Chahar can make an impact in the powerplay with his swing and his changes of pace, which include the knuckle ball, Thakur, who has been enjoying a glorious English summer, is a key operator in the middle overs. Then there is T Natarajan, who not just offers variety with his left-arm swing and seam, but has also shown the bottle and skill to bowl difficult overs at death where his pinpoint yorkers are a lethal weapon.
Two back-up spinners
Should India have an extra wristspinner in Rahul Chahar? Or two spinning allrounders in Washington Sundar and Krunal Pandya? R Ashwin, who can turn matches on their head, could also be an option. He can bowl the first over or the last over, attack or defend, and force himself in as an offspinner - a diminishing, but vital role in the shortest format. Mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy, who has been picked by the selectors three times now after he announced himself in IPL 2020, could also be an option. However, he has only featured in one series, when he made his India debut in the T20Is against Sri Lanka this July.

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo