The ICC event in Australia is still over four months away, but coaches and team management will soon have to decide on their core players, starting with the five-match home series against South Africa on next month.
The finisher’s job is only gaining in importance in the modern power game and the Indian team definitely needs players who can go ballistic from the first ball.
In the absence of Hardik Pandya due to fitness issues, India team management tried Deepak Hooda and Venkatesh Iyer during the post-World Cup debacle last year, but they are yet to found a solution regarding their research.
Hardik, who did well at the IPL in what was his comeback competition, has also returned to domestic competition. However, Hooda and Hardik have beaten higher in the order of their respective IPL teams, but are expected to play lower for the national team.
Venkatesh had a tough second year in the IPL and dropped down the finisher pecking order.
Ravindra Jadeja being the only established finisher in the Indian team, IPL artists like Karthik and Tewatia sensed an opportunity and took full advantage of it.
Tewatia established a reputation for winning in unlikely situations while Karthik, who made his India debut in 2004, showed an insatiable thirst for another comeback.
Former India head coach MSK Prasad believes Karthik and Tewatia should be tried in the series against South Africa from June 9, in addition to calling for Hardik’s return.
“Hardik, Jaddu, Karthik and Tewatia are my top four for the finisher role. DK and Tewatia have been brilliant in this IPL and Hardik has made a good comeback. The World Cup is still a long way off but the likes of DK and Tewatia should get their chance.
“If you look at DK, he has always done well for India in the T20 format with the Nidahas trophy being the highlight,” Prasad told PTI.
On 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 versatile skills Down Under.”
Hardik didn’t play for the Gujarat Titans in every game but played almost 20 overs during the season apart from getting crucial runs at number four.
Prasad’s former colleague on the former selection committee, Sarandeep Singh, says the versatile Baroda player needs to play regularly to be in the game.
“He can’t just play as a side hitter. So you lose a crucial bowling option. DK can try but can he just play as a hitter 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 switch roles if the wickets come heaps. Tewatia has also done well in the IPL but I doubt he can replicate his form under Indian conditions in Australia. Bowlers are likely to bounce.” said the former Indian spinner.
Tewatia had received a call-up in India last year but failed a fitness test.
He added that Venkatesh should be persisted even though he has an ordinary IPL.
Other players who should be tried in other roles against South Africa include young pacer Umran Malik, Prasad believes.
“Shami and Bumrah are your frontline pacers, but you also need a bowler who can consistently hit 150mph. Umran has done that. It’s also encouraging to see Kuldeep and Chahal doing well for their IPL and should be back bowling together for India,” Prasad said.
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