(Cricket news) India have sent a message to the entire cricketing world in these warm up games. India defeated England by 7 wickets with an over to spare and Australia by 8 wickets with 13 balls to spare. The men in blue will naturally enter the tournament as one of the favourites because of these performances and their incredible squad.
The 3 openers in the squad Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Ishan Kishan have scored a 50 each in the warm ups which is a very big positive. Surya Kumar Yadav is another player who got a 50 while out of the bowlers, Ravichandran Ashwin has been a very big positive. In the warm up games Ashwin bowled 4 overs with the figures of 0/23 against England where he had the lowest economy and bowled 2 overs against Australia with the figures 2/8. With Jadeja being undroppable, Ashwin will be competing for the lead spinner spot against the two leggies Rahul Chahar and Varun Chakravarty.
After a disappointing IPL, Chahar has had a decent couple of warm up games. Varun Chakravarty on the other hand had an outstanding IPL, he was only brought on to bowl a couple of overs at the death against Australia but it will be very difficult to keep him out of the team. Ashwin may get a place in the squad against teams that have more than 2 left handers in the squad but Chakravarty has to be the obvious choice.
An area of massive concern is the absence of a 6th bowling option. Rohit Sharma at the toss against Australia said that Hardik Pandya hasn't started bowling yet but is expected to start doing so at the tournament. The big question is that if Pandya has a setback and can't bowl, does he still make the playing XI?
If Hardik can't bowl and India still go with him at 6 followed by Jadeja and 4 pure bowlers then India will not have an option if any one bowler is having a bad day. If Pandya is dropped for a pure batsman, the same problem will persist. The only other option would be to push Jadeja at 6 and play Shardul Thakur at 7. What that does is make an already weak tail even weaker.
Rohit also said that the team is also searching for another bowling option which was put into practice as Virat Kohli bowled his medium pace for a couple of overs and gave away only 12 runs. Rohit Sharma is another one who can bowl his finger spin if required. Surya Kumar Yadav has also bowled medium pace and spin in the past.
India as a squad is not the most balanced by any means. Even if Pandya starts bowling he will always do the job of the 6th option or the part timer. It isn't going to be Pandya who can bowl 135 KMPH+. Therefore any Indian line-up will either be 6 pure batters, 1 all-rounder and 4 pure bowlers or 5 pure batters, 1 all-rounder, 1 bowling all-rounder and 4 pure bowlers. Both of which are not ideal in the T-20 format.
However, the Indian side has a lot of quality and experience blended with some young guns. MS Dhoni in the dugout acting as a mentor, which is a massive positive for the entire camp. Having players like Shreyas Iyer, Deepak Chahar and Axar Patel as standby's goes on to show the depth of this Indian side. India's first game is a massive one against Pakistan. The game will reflect a lot of things for India beyond the result. India are definitely one of the favourites but saying that they are out and out favourites ahead of West Indies, Australia and England would be a bit of a stretch.