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Who are India’s frontline T20I spinners?

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India_T20I_spinners_CricketIt has been more than three years since the last World T20 was played. Another year will pass before the next World T20 comes calling in Australia-New Zealand. In these three years, India are the third most successful T20I side after Afghanistan and Pakistan. Considering that the former played most of their games against Associate nations, India is only bettered by Pakistan in this time period.

A massive factor in India’s success has been the spin twins – Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. The two are the top wicket-takers for India in this time with 46 and 35 wickets apiece. But since the World Cup in England in June, they have found themselves out of favour in the shortest format.

The spin twins were in raging form for India in the limited-overs formats. They were pivotal to a lot of India’s wins since the 2017 Champions Trophy final debacle. Such has been the “KulCha” effect that India have rarely felt the need to go with other spinners. But close to another World T20, they seem to be deviating away from these two beasts.

At first glance, it seems a bizarre move. After all, they are the top wicket-takers for India in the format in the given time frame. But this was also true of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja as India went into the Champions Trophy in 2017. The finger spinners were then instrumental in India’s limited-overs plans and India did not feel the need to try other spinners. They went into the tournament in England in 2017 a tad complacent about their spinners and received a reality check.

As another World T20 approaches, India are preparing for the worst and ironing out their minutest faults. In 2019, “KulCha” has gone for a combined economy of 8.65, suggesting that teams are starting to find a way around the previously unstoppable wrist-spin twins. Even in the IPL, Kuldeep was dropped midway after conceding runs uncontrollably.

At the end of the 2019 World Cup, Chahal and Kuldeep had had an underwhelming tournament. Neither had made a huge impression and midway through the cup, the duo was split up to accommodate Ravindra Jadeja, who offered more control.

The series against South Africa at home was the second T20I series India have been involved in since the World Cup – the first one coming against West Indies. The new spin trio on the block are Krunal Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja and Washington Sundar. While Krunal has been part of every single T20I India have played since his debut in the format, Jadeja is making a comeback into the shortest format following his all-round showing in the World Cup.

The case of Washington Sundar is weird. At Royal Challengers Bangalore, he was benched for the more attacking Chahal, but in the national team, he finds himself edging out the very same bowler. It reeks of muddled thinking in the camp, particularly since the captain of both teams is the same. Sundar, though, has justified his inclusion so far. 12 wickets in 11 matches at an excellent economy of 6.17 and an ability to bowl in the powerplays make Sundar stand out.

Krunal is used sparingly with the ball and only when needed. His value comes from his floating batting role. This makes him nearly indispensable, and like the Mumbai Indians, the national team have also quickly realized his value. This leaves us with Jadeja, whose place is still uncertain in the eleven.

So who are India’s frontline spinners in the shortest format?

This appears to be a question that the Indian management itself has no answers to. Yet.

“Maybe the selectors felt I needed a break. Maybe the team thinks some changes are required. I respect that, and I have no complaints. I see this as an opportunity to do well in Tests,” Kuldeep Yadav had said when asked about being dropped.

It shows that there evidently hasn’t been any conversation with the selectors regarding their omission. It once again reveals that India themselves are unsure of where the wrist-spin twins stand. As of now, it appears that they, like Ashwin and Jadeja at one time in ODIs, are “rested”.

 

Spinners tried by India in T20Is since 2016 World T20

Player

Mat

Wickets

Average

Economy

YS Chahal

31

46

21.13

8.00

Kuldeep Yadav

18

35

12.97

6.72

KH Pandya

15

14

32.07

7.94

Washington Sundar

11

12

20.08

6.17

A Mishra

3

5

14.40

6.00

RA Jadeja

6

4

35.25

8.05

AR Patel

7

4

40.75

6.79

R Ashwin

3

2

43.00

7.81

RD Chahar

1

1

27.00

9.00

Parvez Rasool

1

1

32.00

8.00

SK Raina

16

1

116.00

8.92

M Markande

1

0

-

7.75

 

Since the 2016 World T20, India have tested as many as 11 primary spinners, aside from Suresh Raina, a part-timer.

Of these, only Krunal and Sundar – aside from “KulCha” – have played over 10 matches. With six matches under his belt, Jadeja is picking up pace and might still make it back to the team like he did before the 2019 ODI World Cup.

The likes of Mayank Markande, Rahul Chahar and Parvez Rasool have been picked and dumped with few opportunities to showcase their talent. Chahar still remains part of the setup but for him to play, one of Jadeja or Sundar will have to sit out.

This leaves us with six spinners–including Kuldeep and Chahal–vying for spots in India’s T20I side. None of them are absolute certainties and none of them are completely ruled out either. With an abundance of options, India seem to be confused about their best combination, but have a few games to identify the final three who might take the flight Down Under next year.



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