The group stage exit at the recent ICC Men’s T20 World Cup came as a shock to the Indian team. It was a sorry end to Virat Kohli’s reign as captain in the shortest format.
The time is right to start afresh. Over to Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid, who will begin a new chapter as the T20I captain and head coach respectively.
A three-match T20I series against New Zealand, which commences here on Wednesday, provides the first test for the Rohit-Dravid combination.
Kane Williamson to miss India T20s to focus on Tests
With the next T20 World Cup less than a year away, the duo has little time to ease into their roles. The tricky process of identifying players for key positions will be their top priority at this stage.
The squad is missing senior players such as Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami, which will tempt the team management to push a few inexperienced hopefuls into the spotlight.
Coach Gary Stead admits NZ facing a ‘big challenge’ in India Tests
Chennai Super Kings and Maharashtra batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad, the leading run-scorer in IPL 2021, could add to his two T20I caps.
Venkatesh Iyer, whose exploits at the top of the order was crucial to Kolkata Knight Riders’ ascent to the final, could be handed an India debut. Uncapped pacers Harshal Patel and Avesh Khan will be eager to translate franchise success to the international stage.
Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal returns to the fold after being dropped from the World T20 squad, while Shreyas Iyer makes his comeback from injury troubles. The search for a fast-bowling all-rounder continues, with Hardik Pandya left out after a disappointing run in the World T20.
New Zealand, meanwhile, can be excused for entering the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in a weary daze. Just three days ago, the side featured in the World T20 final in Dubai. There is no time to brood; the schedule demands that you pack your bags immediately and rush to the next stopover.
The demands of this packed calendar, however, have scalped a big victim. Captain and batting mainstay Kane Williamson will sit out of the T20I series to prepare for the Test series starting on November 25 at Kanpur. “With the opening game of the T20 series on Wednesday evening, followed by games on Friday and Sunday night – the decision was made for Williamson to join the Test specialist group already training in Jaipur as they focus on red-ball preparation,” a New Zealand Cricket media release stated.
Tim Southee, who is part of both the T20I and Test squads, will fill in for Williamson as skipper.
Pacer Lockie Ferguson is recovering well from a right calf-strain, and is expected to be available for selection.