We are into the last week of IPL 2021 and also less than three weeks away from the start of T20 World Cup 2021, and ideally, this would have been the time for all teams to assemble their squads for the event in UAE and Oman – set to host the T20 World Cup with BCCI retaining the rights. However, the IPL 2021 is in full swing and all the major stars are playing some highly competitive cricket instead. While it bodes well for most players to be in the high-intensity environment that the T20 World Cup will have, for India this has caused quite a few worries. With most of India’s T20 World Cup-bound players not in the best of nicks, only time will tell whether these stars can up their game, come the T20 World Cup.
Here’s a look at the performances of Indian T20 World Cup squad members in the IPL 2021 so far:
VIRAT KOHLI (Innings: 5, Runs: 159)
Skipper Virat Kohli started the UAE leg in ominous form racking up two fifty-plus scores in the first three matches. And while RCB have been motoring along well, Kohli has notched up identical scores of 25 in the last two matches, taking his tally to 159 in five matches so far. It was expected that Kohli would play a bit freely after announcing that he will relinquish his RCB captaincy after the current season and it seems to be the case. With two half-centuries in three matches, Kohli, opening the batting, looked in good form, and the cause of concern, or just a minor blip in the overall context of the game, is that his strike rate has been under 130. The counterargument to this is the pitches also have slowed down considerably and will not be any better during the T20 World Cup. So, in essence, Kohli has played according to the conditions and has adapted to the slow pitches as well, which is good news for India.
KL RAHUL (Innings: 5, Runs: 197)
KL Rahul’s Punjab Kings have had a fluctuating season so far and are really struggling to make the playoffs. However, the skipper’s form has been good throughout the UAE leg. He started off with a 49 and two scores of 21. He had managed to maintain a strike-rate of close to 150 in the first two games, but in the later matches, his scoring rate has come down. That could be partly because of the pitch, but the larger sense is Rahul has had to change his style of play and is trying don the role of an anchor at the top of the order, curbing his natural attacking instincts. The lack of form of the middle-order (Nicolas Pooran and Aiden Markram) may have contributed to this. He though has scores of 21, 67, and 39 to his name in the last three games
ROHIT SHARMA (Innings: 4, Runs: 91)
The Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma has found himself in uncharted territory with MI languishing at the bottom half of the table and looks like only a miracle can see the defending champions make the playoffs. A large part of it owing to the poor run of form of the skipper and the other key players, who are also part of India’s T20 World Cup squad. Sharma did start off well with 33 and 43 vs KKR and RCB, respectively, after missing the first game owing to injury. But, he had not looked at his fluent best in those games. His next two outings have yielded single figure scores of eight and seven. Mumbai still have potentially two more matches and a player like Rohit Sharma needs just one good innings to rush back to form, still a lack of runs from the Hitman is something that will make Indian fans uneasy.
SURYAKUMAR YADAV (Innings: 5, Runs: 49)
8, 5, 3, 0, 33 – there are the scores strung together by Suryakumar Yadav thus far in the UAE leg. To call Yadav’s form a big worry will be a gross understatement. The fact that Yadav pipped Shreyas Iyer in the T20 World Cup squad and for the all-important No.4 slot in the playing XI would leave India’s think tank a lot to worry about heading into the marquee event. Yadav has found himself in a tough situation in UAE coming into bat, but these are the same situations in the past where he has guided his team out. With just two more games to go, fans will be hoping Yadav can build on from the 33 against Delhi Capitals to regain some form before the World Cup
RISHABH PANT (Innings: 4, Runs: 127)
127 runs from four games may not be eye-popping numbers, but to be fair, Pant has not been pressed into action a lot with the bat. Delhi Capitals are enjoying a dominating season and the top-order more or less have done their part. DC have won three out of their four matches in the UAE so far and Pant batting at No.4 has remained unbeaten once and has made telling contributions to his team’s wins.
ISHAN KISHAN (Innings – 3, Runs – 34)
Back up to Pant, Kishan has not been as lucky as Suryakumar Yadav to get an extended run despite the lean patch. The wicketkeeper-batter was dropped after a string of low scores. In fact, he was better than Yadav, but the axe fell on the No.5 and he has been out of the XI ever since.
HARDIK PANDYA (Innings: 3, Runs: 60, Wickets: 0)
Hardik Pandya is still being eased into after injury layoffs. The fact that Pandya is yet to bowl in this UAE leg despite playing three matches is a big worry for India and the balance of India’s playing XI at the T20 World Cup. With the bat, he finished a game with an unbeaten 40 in Abu Dhabi against PBSK and that is a good sign. In the other two innings he has batted, he made 17 and 3.
RAVINDRA JADEJA (Innings: 2, Run: 48, Innings: 5 Wickets:2)
Jadeja is one of the few T20 World Cup members from the Indian squad to have had a decent IPL 2021 so far. He has had an impact in the three games he has batted for CSK and in the five matches he has bowled, he has picked up two wickets and has economical by and large.
RAHUL CHAHAR (Innings: 4, Wickets: 2)
Chahar was the toast of IPL 2021 in the first leg and the previous season also, but come UAE the young legspinner has failed to get going. He was also dropped for Mumbai Indians last game as well after leaking runs and not having much of an impact with the ball. He has only two wickets to show for in the UAE leg and conceded runs at economies of approx. 5, 6, 8 and 11.
RAVICHANDRAN ASHWIN (Innings: 4, Wickets 3)
Ravichandran Ashwin was in the news for his tiff with Eoin Morgan over the ‘spirit of cricket’ issue last week, but the offspinner has had decent returns with the ball, claiming three wickets in four matches, and has been fairly economical, barring one game against Mumbai Indians
AXAR PATEL (Innings: 3, Runs: 23, Innings4: Wickets:6)
Patel is in a way an unsung hero for Delhi Capitals as he has made some crucial contributions with the ball during the middle overs for the franchise. Even though his batting has left a lot to be desired for, but to be fair to him, he has not had many balls to face either. Only once in the four games has he conceded over 6 runs per over, while he claimed a match-winning 3/21 against Mumbai Indians
VARUN CHAKRAVARTHY (Innings: 6, Wickets: 8)
Chakravarthy has been the best spinner among the ones selected for T20 World Cup. His 3/13 played a key role in KKR bundling out RCB for just 92 and even though he did not pick up any wickets in the second game, he was still very economical. In all six games, his economy has not gone over 6.50. He also picked up two wickets each against SRH and PBKS
BHUVNESHWAR KUMAR (Innings: 5, Wickets: 4)
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has had a decent run in the UAE leg and even though he has just two wickets to show in the five overs he has bowled, the wily operator had kept the batters guessing thus far. With the bat, he has found himself at the fag end of the match without much to do and has remained not out on all four occasions he has been asked to bat.
MOHAMMAD SHAMI (Innings: 5, Wickets: 10)
The PBKS spearhead has been on a wicket-taking spree and is looking in red hot form. Against SRH, Shami got the big wickets of David Warner and Kane Williamson upfront, while against RR he came back in the death overs to scalp three wickets, even though PBKS ended up on the losing side. In the next three games also Shami found himself in the thick of things and claimed wickets in all three. He has 10 wickets from five games
JASPRIT BUMRAH (Innings: 5, Wicket: 11)
MI’s poor form has fortunately not affected Jasprit Bumrah or neither has MI’s torrid owing to the Indian pacer. He has claimed wickets in all the games he has played with the best being 3/36 and 3/43 against RCB and KKR, respectively. He added two against PBKS and CSK and returned 1/29 against DC