Harsha Bhogle avoids Kohli and Dhoni in his 2017 T20 XI

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Harsha Bhogle avoids Kohli and Dhoni in his 2017 T20 XI

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SportsCafe Desk

12/23/2017

Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni failed to break into Harsha Bhogle's 2017 T20 XI with just Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar making the cut. While batsmen were picked based on their average and strike rates, the bowlers had were selected on economy and strike rate, with "pedigree" acting as the X factor.

The star cricket panelist and expert started his pick with a fair warning that viewers would find multiple surprises in his picks and admitted that it had been a tricky task given the shortest format hasn't seen too much action on the international level.

While one would expect names like Rohit Sharma, who became the joint fastest T20I centurion alongside David Miller yesterday reaching the milestone in 35 balls, or Chris Gayle, who charged Rangpur Riders to win the Bangladesh Premier League with a stupendous 146-run knock off 69 balls, the 56-year-old went with Evin Lewis and Alex Hales.

“I saw him (Evin Lewis) score a hundred against India earlier this year and thought he wasn’t any less than Gayle. Alex Hales has been brilliant for Nottingham in English T20 league and he has been hammering for fun. While Lewis averages 40.14, Hales has a decent average of 37.23 but a strike rate of 191.23, and it is where he pips Hashim Amla,” said Bhogle said in a video for Cricbuzz.

The mercurial AB de Villiers came in number three with England’s Jos Buttler in next as a wicketkeeper-batsman. While one might find it difficult to choose Virat Kohli over AB de Villiers in the number three after the South African’s heroics in the IPL time and again, Dhoni has masterminded India to numerous T20I wins this year. However, it seems his ability to start slow was the reason here.  

“Though the numbers for an explosive wicketkeeper-batsman will see Luke Ronchi up top, he is an opener. Buttler has the ability to come in the middle and change games with his hard-hitting abilities at any time. De Villiers is averaging 44.23 with a strike rate of 156.99, while Buttler has a strike rate of 135.69. Buttler’s lower average of 28.72 was mainly due to his playing time in Bangladesh on slower pitches,” justified Bhogle.

For the two finishers, Bhogle needed a left-hander and a right-hander and he decided to go with the explosive David Miller and Kieron Pollard. While Miller averages an astonishing 40.31 coming so much down the line, big man Pollard comes in at number six.

“Pollard is the tricky one. When he comes in, it is horror for the bowlers. I will try and sneak a maximum of two overs from him on a good day,” said Bhogle.

Choosing the five bowlers with one of them with the ability to contribute with the bat as well was again a challenging task. However, Bhogle sounded surer than ever in choosing them. While Narine’s recent heroics as Kolkata Knight Rider’s  opener got him the immediate spot, Bhogle went with Rashid Khan next. 

“The Afghanistan bowler has taken 74 wickets in 53 games this year with an average of 15.09. He has been doing this CPL, IPL as well as the national team. Hence, Rashid Khan remains unavoidable. Pakistan’s Shadab Khan’s stats haven’t been very different either as the Pakistan bowler has taken 40 wickets in 33 games with an average of 17.67. But, I believe that Rashid is charting a new course,” said Bhogle.

Finally, Bhogle decided to go with the Indian pace duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah as his next two picks. While the right-arm seam bowler has taken 31 wickets in 21 games this year at an average of 17.28, the Mumbai Indians pacer has established himself as one of the best bowlers of modern day cricket. 

While Hasim Ali and Mohammad Amir was a proving to be a tough decision for Bhogle, he chose to stick with a left-hander Amir who can swing the ball well. 

“If you go strictly by numbers there are many names like Ronki, Hashim Amla or even Clint Mckay, who are brushed under the carpet as we focus only on the international games. I have tried to spread my net as wide as possible,” concluded Bhogle.

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