Sizzling Arshdeep Singh should be India’s absolute certainty at the 2022 T20 World Cup

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Arshdeep Singh was named the Player of the Series in India's recent series against WI.

Arshdeep Singh (Twitter)

Sizzling Arshdeep Singh should be India’s absolute certainty at the 2022 T20 World Cup

In India's recent five-match T20I series against West Indies, Arshdeep Singh became renowned as India's designated death bowler. Arshdeep's success was underpinned by his execution in line and length, and now, there should not be any question regarding his selection at the upcoming T20 World Cup.

“Bowling in T20 was exceptionally difficult, bowling pace in T20 was even harder and bowling pace at the death was as hard as it got.”

T20s, with all the notorious rules and regulations, have been largely designed in favour of explosive power-hitters. Hence, the above-mentioned statement printed in the book ‘Cricket 2.0’ could not be more accurate at the present time. On a good batting pitch, if you are a bowler and are given the responsibility of successfully defending the total for your team, there must be full of confidence in you for pulling off unplayable deliveries. Although there is currently no such term as that with the help of advanced technology, quality teams – in both clubs and countries – have always boasted of two or more designated death over specialists to close out the innings.

When a statement reads ‘two or more designated death over specialists in a team,’ it does not necessarily mean that they all must assemble together in the same lineup. There are days when one won’t enjoy bowling as much as he or she would have enjoyed in the past, and of course, considering the jam-packed schedule nowadays, unfortunate injuries have become part and parcel of the sports. Thus, please do not think only about Plan A of a quality team. There should be Plan B and C if they thrive for elusive glory at the mega ICC events.

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Now let us only talk about the Indian pace attack here for T20s. In Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, the Men in Blue have got two of the most clinical death-over bowlers at present. But then, will their inclusions be enough to secure the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year? No, not ideally.

Since Rohit Sharma took charge as the country’s full-time captain and Rahul Dravid was appointed as head coach, India have been continuously chopping and changing to get the best possible lineup for the next T20 World Cup edition. More often than not, they have received tons of criticism for doing that as there seems to be too much confusion about who will bat at which position at the upcoming global event. However, the one part they can cherish about the move is finding a diamond in the rough. And that diamond is no one but Arshdeep Singh.

I think Arshdeep has been the best death bowler in this competition (IPL). That's what the stats say. He's a youngster coming in. He's got a lot of drive, a lot of ambition and he's got talent as well. And he`s just a good bloke."

Kagiso Rabada on Arshdeep Singh during IPL 2022.

Arshdeep might be 23-year-young, but he is not a new name in Indian cricket at all. The Punjab Kings’ left-armer had a magnificent IPL campaign this year, and riding on that, he earned his maiden national cap. And then, on his debut match in England last month, he made his mark straightaway by executing his yorkers at a decent pace with perfection. There in the UK, his figures read 3.3-1-18-2.

From there on, what Arshdeep followed in the Caribbean is simply majestic. 17.1 overs. 113 runs. Eight wickets at a splendid economy rate of 6.58. That’s how good Arshdeep had been across all five matches against the West Indies to be fittingly adjudged the Player of the Series.

Now, let’s take a deep dive into the essential statistics relevant to this piece. Among the full-nation bowlers who have taken most T20I wickets in the last five overs, Arshdeep finds himself in third place, with seven wickets at an economy rate of just 5.69. Jason Holder (13 wickets at 11.47) and Harshal Patel (nine wickets at 10.74), the two who sit above Arshdeep in this chart, have played 12 and 13 matches respectively. The drastic difference in economy rates between the top two and Arshdeep clearly tells the story of how good the emerging Punjabi boy has been.

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On Monday night, India announced a 15-member T20I squad for the forthcoming Asia Cup and with no surprise, Arshdeep retained his place. On the other hand, Bumrah’s back injury and Harshal Patel’s rib injury that forced them out of the entire tournament gave the Men in Blue major setbacks. However, their injuries were a blessing in disguise for Arshdeep as he, considering his top-notch form, will become an automatic starter in their absence.

The recent history in T20 cricket suggests how relentless a left-arm quick can be for any team to yield rich dividends, and a highly volatile  Arshdeep is certainly the one for India. Simultaneously, his presence in the playing XI at the T20 World Cup will allow Bumrah to operate in the middle overs while Bhuvneshwar can compliment him in the end phase. Hence, Arshdeep’s inclusion in the lineup, with his bag of tricks and willingness, will only give ample much-required options to Rohit.

As the next T20 World Cup is set to get underway in just over two months, the time has come for Rahul Dravid and Co. to stop the experiment for getting the best possible lineup. Yet, at this point, it is safe to say that Arshdeep has guaranteed a place for the next big-ticket event, especially after the BCCI decided to pick Deepak Chahar as a standby and dropped Mohammed Shami from the Asia Cup squad. However, with the striking form he has been in since IPL 2022, Arshdeep should not be just warming the bench later this year in Australia. Instead, keeping his capability of turning any match on its head in mind, he should be Rohit’s go-to man, along with Bumrah, to play a pivotal role.

With his ability to preserve runs as well as take wickets so frequently, Arshdeep is a complete package that India have never seen before in a left-arm quick. By all means, they should make full use of him to bring the much-anticipated T20 World Cup trophy back after 15 prolonged years.

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