India kickstarts their home season campaign with a T20I series against South Africa with the first match at Dharamsala. Captain Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri need to identify players for specific roles as preparations have to start for the T20 World Cup next year. The selectors have picked a largely young squad and there are players who are proven customers in this format.
However, tough decisions need to be made and it starts to be made with the openers. Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are the lynchpins in the batting order and hence, Shikhar Dhawan does not quite fit in. Here the management needs to decide and give KL Rahul a longer rope at the top of the order and allow him to express himself freely, much like he does in IPL.
Pant needs to get a longer rope at number 4
Kohli can walk in at number 3 and then Rishabh Pant has to be sent in at number 4 to settle down and then take the game away from the opposition. Also, there is pressure on Pant to perform and hence, more time for him in the middle will do him a lot of good.
Hardik Pandya, who has made it back to the Indian team, should walk in next depending on the conditions and situations at hand. If the team has lost wickets in a heap, Pandya can still wait and Shreyas Iyer can walk instead of him out in the middle. And then there is Krunal Pandya, who has been a superb addition to India's T20I side and with his all-round pedigree, the southpaw should be used as a finisher.
As far as the bowlers are concerned, the conditions are Dharamsala could force the management to look at three genuine pacers and hence, Deepak Chahar, Khaleel Ahmed and Navdeep Saini should be the three bowlers. This also will be an opportunity for these younger crops of bowlers to stake a claim for higher honours.
"Our bowling unit in the Test format is very strong. When I was with the team (in West Indies) I realised that I'll have to work harder to get into the side. Only by doing that a I might get a chance," Saini told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of All India Public Sector T20 cricket tournament. This statement came after the selectors did not include him for India's Test squad which will take on South Africa.