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India's bench strength


India_Bench_Strength_CricketWith the amount of cricket that the Indian team plays, player burnout is pretty regular. It has happened with quite a few players in the recent past and to ensure that this does not hamper the team too much, having a solid bench strength is essential these days. Fortunately, India has quite a few young and talented players for that role. In the current set up, names like Manish Pandey, Kuldeep Yadav and Rishabh Pant have already made a mark and look certain to be in the mix for the future of the team.

Apart from these names, though, Indian cricket also has a number of other talents who are likely to be bolstering the national team’s bench strength in the coming years. Here is a look at six such prospects.

Krunal Pandya

He has all the makings of being the next big all-rounder for Indian cricket. Gujarat’s Krunal Pandya, the brother of the more famous Hardik Pandya, is a wily left-arm spinner and a very smart and effective batsman. His exploits for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL have already won him a lot of plaudits and he is shaping up very well at present. 

What makes Krunal special is that he is a complete all-rounder who is equally good at both his roles. He is extremely hard to get away from with his bowling and keeps snaring important wickets. With his batting, he has the ability to pluck quick singles, hit cheeky shots for fours and also smack big ones when the pressure mounts. 

The 26-year-old, who is currently in the squad for the India ‘A’ team, would be the perfect fit for the Indian limited overs squad.

Sanju Samson:

At just 22 years of age, Sanju Samson has already notched up 7 hundreds and 4 fifties in first-class cricket with a high score of 211. This stylish wicket-keeper batsman from Kerala has been in the reckoning for quite some time now and is being seen as a future batting star for India. 

What sets Samson apart that he is technically very sound and quite comfortable against both pace and spin. While his first-class performances have been attractive, Samson has shown that he can be pretty devastating as a limited overs cricketer as well by going at a strike-rate of 121 in T20s. 

One of Samson’s distinctive traits is that he rarely slogs and depends on proper, classy cricket shots to get his runs and build a long innings. Clearly, he is one batsman set for India’s future. That he is a genuine wicket-keeper is also an added advantage.

Basil Thampi:

Although he is a relatively fresh face, Basil Thampi has left a definite impression with his fast and accurate bowling. This 23-year-old burly, young lad from Kerala has the rare ability to bowl yorkers on a consistent basis and also generate good seam movement at pace. Although the current Indian pace bowling unit is quite settled, having someone like Thampi in the mix will give the team some more variety. 

It is not without reason that he has been picked up in the India ‘A’ squad recently as the selectors clearly see him as a probable future prospect. With the volume of cricket that is being played these days, the fast bowlers need to be rotated well and Basil Thampi’s young, fresh legs and skill to swing the ball with pace and accuracy will fit perfectly in India’s bowling bench.

Yuzvendra Chahal:

In his last international appearance for India, Yuzvendra Chahal had record-breaking figures of 6-25 against England. The young leg-spinner has featured in 9 international matches for India, and looks like a certain future prospect. Chahal has made his mark in the IPL with his sharp, accurate bowling and ability to snare crucial wickets. He bowls very well in the Powerplay overs and is a good choice to have if the captain wants to keep runs under check. 

Chahal has been brilliant in first-class cricket where he has grabbed 70 wickets in 27 matches and also has 107 wickets in T20s. With the current Indian national spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja struggling to cope with the burden of multiple formats, the young Yuzvendra Chahal can be the ideal man to take the burden in the limited overs format for India.

Shreyas Iyer:

He is someone who loves to pile on the runs. 22-year-old Shreyas Iyer is a free-flowing attacking top-order batsman and has been in the news for his domestic heroics. In the 2015-16 Ranji season, Iyer amassed a whopping 1,321 runs – the highest in the tournament that season – for Mumbai at a stunning average of 73.38 with 4 hundreds and 7 fifties in just 11 games. He followed that up with 725 runs in 10 matches the very next year. 

He has also been doing pretty well in the IPL and was the emerging player of the year in 2015 with 439 runs from 14 matches for Delhi Daredevils. Elegant to watch and with an aura of confidence about him, Shreyas Iyer is the real deal and will definitely be on the radar of the selectors in the coming years.

Sandeep Sharma:

Having that rare ability to swing the ball both ways and at pace, Sandeep Sharma is a great option for India’s fast bowling future. Having already impressed with his consistent performances in the IPL for Kings XI Punjab over the last three years, Sandeep has shown that he is not just a one-season wonder. 

In first-class cricket, too, Sandeep has been terrific with 138 wickets in just 35 matches at an incredible average of 24.73. Clocking well above the 140 km/h regularly, the burly fast bowler from Punjab has the penchant for bowling long spells and extracting good seam movement even on the docile Indian tracks. Sandeep Sharma should likely be the ideal back up fast bowler for India in all formats in the coming years.


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