The ICC event in Australia is still more than four months away but selection and team management must soon decide on their core group of players, starting with next month’s five-game home series against South Africa.
The finisher’s job is becoming increasingly important in the high-powered modern game and the Indian team definitely needs players who are ballistic from the first ball.
With Hardik Pandya absent due to fitness issues, Indian team management tried out Deepak Hooda and Venkatesh Iyer in last year’s mid-tier debacle after the World Cup but they have not yet completed their quest.
Hardik, who did well in his comeback competition in the IPL, has also plunged back into national competition. However, Hooda and Hardik have batted higher up in the order of their respective IPL teams but are expected to play lower for the national team.
Venkatesh has had a tough sophomore year in the IPL and has come down the finisher pecking order.
With Ravindra Jadeja the only established finisher on the Indian team, IPL artists like Karthik and Tewatia saw their chance and took it to the full.
Tewatia has earned a reputation for winning games from unlikely situations, while Karthik, who made his India debut in 2004, has shown an insatiable hunger for another comeback.
Former Indian chief voter MSK Prasad believes both Karthik and Tewatia must be brought to justice in the series against South Africa that begins June 9 and also calls for Hardik’s return.
“Hardik, Jaddu, Karthik and Tewatia are my top 4 for the finisher role. DK and Tewatia have been brilliant in this IPL and Hardik has made a good comeback. The World Championship is some time away but the likes of DK and Tewatia should be do get their chance.
“If you look at DK he has consistently performed well in the T20 format for India with the Nidahas Trophy being the highlight,” Prasad told PTI.
Speaking of Hardik, he said: “He will be one of your main players in Australia where the T20 World Cup is taking place. But I also want to see him bowling regularly. We will need his all-round skills Down Under.”
Hardik hasn’t bowled in every game for the Gujarat Titans, but has bowled in all but 20 overs throughout the season and also had crucial runs in fourth place.
Prasad’s former colleague on the former selection committee, Sarandeep Singh, said the Baroda all-rounder needs to bowl regularly to be in the scheme of things.
“He can’t just play as a batter in the side. This is how you lose a crucial bowling option. DK can try but can he just batter with Rishabh putting on the gloves I’m not so sure But he certainly made a case and he has all the experience.
“He also has the ability to change rolls when wickets fall in a pile. Tewatia has also done well in the IPL but I doubt he could repeat his form in Indian conditions in Australia. The bowlers will probably kick him out I think,” the former India spinner said.
Tewatia had received a call-up to India last year but failed a fitness test.
He added that Venkatesh should be kept even if he has a normal IPL.
Among other players to try in other roles against South Africa is young pacesetter Umran Malik, Prasad calculates.
“Shami and Bumrah are your frontline pacemakers, but you also need a bowler who can hit 150km/h on a regular basis. Umran did that. It’s also encouraging to see that Kuldeep and Chahal are doing well at their IPL and should bowl together again for India. ‘ said Prasad.
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