One of the biggest fallacies in cricket lies in considering a player’s ability or form  in one format as justification for selecting or dropping him in another. While it is easy to see why Test cricket and limited overs cricket are completely different animals, the lines are often blurred between T20 and ODI cricket.

There is enough evidence now to show that they both require different skills a lot of the time. The hustle of the 20-over game is not for everybody, sometimes even players who may seem a natural choice in this format (like Shikhar Dhawan).

So, selections need to be made with this in mind.

The big problem with T20 selections is that there are very few international T20 matches played around the world outside of the World T20 tournaments every two years; it has been deliberately focused on domestic franchise cricket. So, it is often hard to know the best players on an international stage as the chasm between domestic and international cricket is there in this format too. But, because franchise cricket involves a quota for international players, it is still a better indicator of ability or form than other formats.

The Indian team for the World T20 tournament also needs to be made keeping this mind. ODI successes cannot be automatic choices in this format.

With just 5 months before India hosts the prestigious World T20, Impact Index looks at a probable Indian squad for the tournament.

Our recommended squad of 15 is based on the respective player’s impact and role at the specific position coupled with the need and requirement of the team. The strengths and weaknesses of the players are obviously an important factor, especially keeping sub-continental conditions in mind.

The time period considered is from World T20, 2012 (18th September, 2012) to 7th October, 2015. Both domestic and international T20 matches have been considered, with a slightly higher value for T20Is (Minimum number of matches: 25).

Starting XI (in batting order)

Ajinkya Rahane

Robin Uthappa

Virat Kohli

Rohit Sharma

Suresh Raina

MS Dhoni

Axar Patel

Harbhajan Singh

R Ashwin

B Kumar

Ashish Nehra

Reserves: Pravin Tambe, Yusuf Pathan, Sandeep Sharma and Manish Pandey.

Robin Uthappa’s selection seems inevitable. India need an explosive opener and Uthappa just might be their trump card.
He has not only been the highest impact Indian batsman but also the second-highest T20 batsman in the world (after Anamul Haque) when it comes to T20s (both domestic and international). Uthappa’s Batting Impact is almost 25% better than the next highest impact Indian, Rohit Sharma in this time frame.

It is inexplicable then that he has only played 2 T20Is (out of a maximum of 16) in this time frame.
Scoring at a brisk pace has been a major problem for India (since the World T20, 2012). MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina have not been able to replicate their IPL striking ability for India and have barely registered a positive Strike Rate Impact (strike rate more than average match strike rate). India need an impetus at the start to cover up for a lack of hitting-ability at the death. Uthappa is their best bet at the moment. He would also be very hungry, as this would be his last chance to make it at this level. Given that he can also be the reserve wicketkeeper in this squad, his selection should really be a no-brainer.

Ajinkya Rahane slots in as our second opener. He is higher impact than Shikhar Dhawan with consistent performances in the IPL. Rahane also has a higher Strike Rate Impact than him. Moreover, Dhawan has a woeful T20I record.

Virat Kohli is India’s highest impact batsman in T20Is and also the most consistent in the world with a failure rate of only 16%.

Rohit Sharma produced a tournament-defining performance for Mumbai Indians in the IPL 2015 final. He has had a higher impact batting in the middle-order for Mumbai Indians than as an opener for India in T20Is. Keeping him on as an opener in this format merely because of his ODI successes (and regardless of occasional successes in this position in T20s) is a mistake.

Suresh Raina is India’s highest impact T20 batsman of all-time. He should ideally be given the number 3 position as that is where a majority of his runs have come for Chennai Super Kings. But the team composition forces him to come at number 5. Ideally, given his stature in this format, he should come in at 3, and Kohli and Sharma should figure out ways of being effective lower down. If that doesn’t happen, as seems to be the case at the moment, then Raina needs to be effective in this spot (which would be a huge boost to the team). Sadly, his place may be the one up for grabs if he does not have the same impact Kohli or Sharma do (it is obviously easier to have that impact batting up the order in this format), and if a hitter has to come in. It is unfair to Raina.

MS Dhoni’s T20 Batting Impact has dropped by almost 20% in the last two years as compared to the two before. More worryingly, his Strike Rate Impact has dipped by almost 300% in the same time frame.
He is India’s lowest impact T20I batsman in this time frame.
Still, his captaincy, experience and past record make him an automatic choice in the eleven.

Axar Patel is the closest all-rounder India has in its ranks. Yuvraj Singh was an alternative as well but all three – Patel, Yusuf Pathan and Hardik Pandya have had a higher impact than Yuvraj in the last 18 months in this format.

Harbhajan Singh has produced three tournament-defining performances since the T20 World Cup in 2012. He is also the most restrictive (highest Economy Impact ) Indian bowler in T20Is.

R Ashwin’s Bowling Impact in T20Is has been 35% lesser than his impact in domestic T20s but he seems to have rediscovered his mojo across all formats in the last few months.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar makes up for his lack of wicket-taking ability with a very high Economy Impact . He is also India’s second-highest impact pacer in T20s in the last three years.

Ashish Nehra warrants a place in the Indian eleven. He has been India’s highest impact pacer in T20s in the last three years and also produced a tournament-defining performance in the last edition of the Champions League T20. Age should not be a consideration if the most effective team for a tournament is being selected.

Pravin Tambe’s impact in the last three years as a spinner has actually been higher than that of R Ashwin in T20s but he had a poor IPL 2015. Given that he just turned 44, fitness will play a big role in him being considered, as with Nehra.

Yusuf Pathan gets a nod over Hardik Pandya as the reserve all-rounder due to his superior IPL returns in the last two years and the additional advantage of being a spinner; which will more likely suit the conditions in India.

India lack big-hitters in their squad and thus Pathan’s inclusion is a must.

Sandeep Sharma makes it to the squad as the reserve pacer as his proportion of top/middle order wickets in the last three years is second only to Ashish Nehra amongst all Indian bowlers.

Manish Pandey’s big tournament-defining performance in the IPL 2014 final against Royal Challengers Bangalore helps him make the cut though his recent performances have been quite mediocre.

Note:

Even though Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav emerge as high impact bowlers in this period due to their tournament-defining performances , their consistency is too poor to warrant a place in the team.

Dinesh Karthik produced two tournament-defining performances in the last three years but they came as a keeper-batsman. In terms of only Batting Impact , MS Dhoni is higher than Karthik. The latter had a very poor IPL 2015.

If we look at actual performances rather than suspected merit in this format, this is what the team composition should be like in the World T20 coming up in March.

 

Soham Sarkhel/ Nikhil Narain