After an intense spell of virtually non-stop ODI action on either side of the Indian Premier League (IPL), many would have thought that all-format regulars would be given a break for the limited-over leg of India’s series against the West Indies, starting August 3.
But seven of the the 15 cricketers who boarded a flight on Monday night for the three-match T20 series had featured in India’s World Cup campaign.
More than these seven, the next couple of weeks will be vital for the eight players who have been on the fringe of India’s white-ball squad for a while.
They would be eager to make a statement as India starts its long road of preparation ahead of the next year’s World T20I, to be played in Australia in October 2020.
Of the eight, Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey were in contention for a middle-order slot for the World Cup before they fell off the radar; Krunal Pandya and Washington Sundar have been tried out for the the spin-bowling allrounder’s spot in T20Is; and Khaleel Ahmed and Deepak Chahar have been back-up seamers in white-ball cricket for more than a year now.
The only two new faces — right-arm pacer Navdeep Saini and leggie Rahul Chahar — would be more than keen on continuing their IPL and India-A exploits in the India jersey.
Captain Virat Kohli and his deputy in white-ball formats Rohit Sharma’s presence will be a huge boost for the relatively young bunch. The two will keep a close watch on the newcomers.
After all, not only does the West Indies tour kick off the World T20I preparation but it also signifies the beginning of the new World Cup cycle in ODIs. Kohli had no qualms in admitting it on Monday evening.
“From the point of view of us not making it to the final of the World Cup and bowing out (in the semifinals), I think it is an important time to regroup and come together as a side,” Kohli said.
Need to move on
“There is a T20 World Cup next year, there is always something to look forward.
“I know we were all disappointed with not going through to the final and probably winning the World Cup.
“But you have to move on and you to have accept defeat as well and look forward to new things. It is an opportunity for them to establish their skill sets, for me as a captain to have new players in the side and get them together.
I think international cricket always presents you with opportunities and challenges which I always look forward to.”