While IPL 2021 certainly showed that India’s current openers - Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma - have a big problem with intent and strike rate, it also saw plenty of WT20 probables put their hands up for national selection. So amongst the many, who really made the fullest use of the opportunity?
This season might have just lasted 24 days but it was enough to show us the mirror on how the Indian regulars did and how drastically some of the Indian probables improved. Amongst the plenty of candidates, there was Prithvi Shaw who argualy impressed the most, while Rahul Chahar proved his worth to establish himself as the country's No.1 spinner!
How about others and where do they rank?
Highly realistic - 8 and above
Rahul Chahar - 11 wickets in 7 games @18.36, ER 7.21
Basics first, Rahul Chahar, plying his trade for Mumbai Indians, picked up 11 wickets in the season, more than any spinner in the tournament, at an average of 18.36, conceding just 7.21 RPO. In the middle-overs, from 7-15, Chahar tops the bowling chart, with 11 wickets. Incidentally, he has also bowled the highest number of dot-balls this season during overs 7-15, with 57 of his 156 deliveries bowled being dots. Now, the real question - how would he get his chance? With Yuzvendra Chahal struggling for form, we already saw Chahar donning the Indian jersey against England, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise if he starts over Chahal henceforth.
Chances - 10/10
Prithvi Shaw - 308 runs in 8 games @38.50, SR 166.48
In case you missed out, we already talked about why Shaw ‘must’ be there in the Indian squad, primarily to tackle the powerplay conundrum. This IPL, in the powerplay phase, Shaw has scored 184 runs, the most in the tournament, off just 98 deliveries, more than Rohit, who has only scored 128 runs. Not just that, amongst the Indian batsmen in the tournament, Shaw’s strike rate of 187.76 in the powerplay is unparalleled. Given that India have struggled in the powerplay, it is easy to include Shaw in the squad and give him the required license to bash the bowlers. Not so tough, is it? And for stats, 308 runs in 8 games, averaging 38.5 is quite good. Actually extremely good!
Chances - 9.5/10
Avesh Khan - 14 wickets in 8 games @16.50, ER 7.70
In 2019, India unearthed a gem of a bowler from the IPL, Navdeep Saini but two years later, his form and confidence both have dipped immensely, leading them to this situation! In the current squad, India doesn’t have a pace enforcer, a position that some of the other competitors have figured out well. Avesh Khan just proved that he has it all - skills, temperament and fitness to be that bowler, to be that missing link in the puzzle. This season, he has picked up 14 wickets, at an average of 16.50, which is even better than Rashid Khan and Rahul Chahar. Not just that, he has it all - bouncer, yorker and a tantalizing control over the line - which should make him a favourite to even be part of the squad, at the expense of Saini.
Chances - 9/10
Varun Chakravarthy - 7 wickets in 7 games @31.28, ER 7.82
Okay then, this might be shocking, for a spinner who bowled in Chennai, why does Varun Chakravarthy not have a plethora of wickets? Oh well, he doesn’t have wickets because of the way the franchise has used him this season. His role has been very weird and has bowled plenty of times in the powerplay, unlike last season. But despite that, his stature as an unknown commodity surely would tilt the tide in his favour. For all of these reasons, he should comfortably be placed to make the squad, unless he fails the fitness test yet again!
Chances - 8.5/10
Deepak Chahar - 8 wickets in 7 games @24.12, SR 18
Last year, Deepak Chahar endured his worst-ever IPL season, which also incidentally coincided with CSK’s seventh-placed finish. This season, CSK are in the top two, just mid-way in the tournament, so has Chahar fired? Obviously, he has been an integral part of the Chennai set up, with his overs often coming in the powerplay. Eight wickets in the powerplay showcases why he is highly sought after, with his ability to move the ball with his hand position and extracting swing out of the pitch being extraordinary. Given that his effectiveness in the powerplay is unparalleled, his chances of making the squad is high.
Chances - 8.5/10
Realistic but very tough - 5 and above
Axar Patel - 6 wickets in 4 games @18.66, ER 7
Just four games into the tournament, Axar Patel showed Delhi what they were looking for, an all-rounder with the skill of breaking a partnership any time. Every time Delhi needed to make a breakthrough, the left-arm spinner was right there, in the powerplay, in the middle-overs and even at the death. Given that India already has a left-handed all-rounder in Ravindra Jadeja, it is virtually impossible to imagine Axar getting the pip over him. But certainly, it is a realistic chance that he could make the squad list, given that India are going to be travelling with a bigger squad in the COVID times.
Chances - 7/10
Sanju Samson - 277 runs in seven games @46.16, SR 145.78
Wicketkeeper? Check! Captain? Check! Leading from the front? Check! Sanju Samson in his first stint as a skipper in the IPL racked up 277 runs in 7 games, averaging 46.16 while striking the ball at 145.78. After showcasing his talent in Australia, Samson was pretty immediately dropped from the Indian setup, owing to inconsistency. Now, he isn’t the most consistent player but if he is scoring runs every season, at a good strike rate, surely he knows his game. Even if we take Rishabh Pant as his comparison, Pant has just scored 213 runs this season, @35.50 and a strike rate of 131.48, under-par at best. So if India are considering a keeper, effective behind and in front of the stumps, Samson might be a good pick!
Chances - 6/10
Prasidh Krishna - 8 wickets in seven games @30.37, ER 9.16
Against England, Prasidh Krishna made an impressive start but slowly towards the end of the series, his form and composure started fading away. In the IPL season, he picked up eight wickets, was KKR’s second-best bowler, with 8 wickets but at the cost of conceding 9.16 RPO, which might come as a concern. In a season where the likes of Avesh, Chetan Sakariya and all pipped him in terms of being effective, Prasidh’s chances might not be as straightforward as he would have thought.
Chances - 5/10
Unrealistic - Below 5
Rahul Tewatia - 2 wickets @97.5 & 86 runs @17.20 in seven games
A highly sought after individual, especially post his showing in the 2020 season of the IPL, Rahul Tewatia was a shadow-version of himself this season. With a bowling average of 97.5 and a batting average of 17.20, he has reduced and minimized any chances of the selectors getting back to him. Unless something very drastic happens and something dramatic unfolds, Tewatia won’t be part of the Indian extended squad for the World T20.
Chances - 4.5/10
Manish Pandey - 193 runs in five games @48.25, SR 123.71
Not just the Indian setup, Manish Pandey was also dropped from the Sunrisers set up earlier this season. Two games later, they realised that probably dropping him wasn’t the best choice, and he came back into the side. On a personal front, Pandey scored 193 runs in five games, averaging 48.25. Run-scoring was never a concern with him but it was all about that strike rate, which reads 2011 more than 2021. That’s where he has immensely hurt his chances and unless the sun rises from the north, he isn’t going to be in the reckoning.
Chances - 4/10
Ravichandran Ashwin - 1 wicket in five games @147, ER 7.73
Ravichandran Ashwin exited the tournament mid-way due to personal reasons, but before his exit, his impact for Delhi was minimal, picking just one wicket in five games, averaging 147. For a spinner who was, till the start of the IPL, considered as an outside pick for the World T20, he has not given the selectors any basis to warrant a selection. For that reason alone, India would be well off sticking to Washington Sundar.
Chances - 4/10
Ishan Kishan - 73 runs in five games @14.60, SR 82.95
Can Someone rewind the tape? Are we seriously talking about the same left-handed batsman who cracked open the English bowlers in the five-match T20I series? Yes and his form, at the moment, terrible! In seven games this season, he has scored a total of 73 runs, averaging 14.60 at a strike rate of 82.95. No chance! Ishan needs a miracle from here to make it to the setup despite being a left-hander and a wicketkeeper!
Chances - 3/10
Navdeep Saini - 0 wickets in one game, ER 13.50
The best up-front and the worst in the last - Navdeep Saini has gone from a sensation to a train-wreck in just a year. After bowling that sensational super over against Mumbai, where he prevented the in-form Mumbai batters, he has slipped way off the mark for the Men in Red and Gold. This season, the pacer just played one game, brought in specifically to counter CSK’s middle-order batsmen - Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu. As it turned out, he failed to impress, taking no wickets and conceding runs at an ER of 13.50. Fate sealed!
Chances - 1/10