SKY redefines T20 batting; Pant crashes out

New Delhi: The Indian team would have most likely listed the following objectives for 2022 if you had asked them a year ago… A series win in South Africa; complete the series victory in England by avoiding a loss in the lone Test at Edgbaston; winning the Asia Cup and T20 World Cup and continue to dominate in ODIs etc etc.

To be fair to Team India, all those targets were doable. They had a 1-0 series advantage going into 2022 against a South Africa without Anrich Nortje, and they were strong favourites to win the series.
The job of maintaining the advantage in England was viewed as being more difficult, but it wasn’t thought to be impossible since India just needed a draw to win. And considering the team’s totally absurd quality and depth, there were obvious expectations in white-ball cricket.

So here we are after a year. With a series loss in South Africa, a crushing defeat in the lone Test at Edgbaston, a humiliating semi-final exit in the T20 World Cup, and a below average performances in the ODIs.

However, there was a kind of satisfaction towards the end of the year when Team India defeated Bangladesh 2-0 in Test series. Though many would argue that this victory was less than convincing and came after losing ODI series 2-1. The fact remains that the Indian squad had a strange year when they didn’t accomplish much on the international scene but still managed to dominate bilateral series.

Now that 2023 is just around the corner, it’s time to review Team India’s factual position for the soon-to-be-gone year. In all three formats, the year has been bitter-sweet, with the disappointing lows overshadowing the highs achieved by Suryakumar Yadav during this period.
As is often the case with Indian cricket, the year turned out to be highly unpredictable. The India News Stream examines the highs and lows of Indian cricket in 2022…

‘Hitman’ replaces leader Kohli

Virat Kohli resigned as Test captain after the humiliating series loss to a beatable South African team. After the World Cup in the UAE last year, he had already given up the T20 International captaincy position. Rohit Sharma took over as ODI skipper in December 2021, which didn’t sit well with Kohli.

Kohli is India’s most effective Test captain, having led his team to 40 victories in the 58 games he played in. But Kohli was unable to win a major ICC championship, including the World Test Championship, Champions Trophy, T20 World Cup, or ODI World Cup.
Cricket analysts began debating whether it was time to shift the team’s reins to Rohit Sharma as a result of Kohli’s persistent dearth of runs across all three formats. In addition to being the elder member, Rohit was the most qualified candidate to succeed Kohli due to his consistency with the bat at the top of the order and success leading the Mumbai Indians in the IPL.

The fans had high hopes that Rohit ‘Hitman’ Sharma would continue his success in the Indian Premier League (IPL) as captain and ‘The Wall’ (chief coach Rahul Dravid) would lead the team to greater heights by drawing on his more than two-decade-long playing career and assisting some of the nation’s brightest stars in a seamless transition to the top level of the sport.
The T20I and ODI series Rohit’s team won against the West Indies at home in February was a strong start to the year. In their subsequent bilateral series, India continued to have a good time, defeating Sri Lanka at home in T20Is and Tests in February and March.

Rohit’s fitness issues came to light shortly after. The Mumbai hitter, who was excelling in the longest version of the game after beginning to open in 2019, was side-lined by a hamstring ailment for the pivotal tour of South Africa. At that time, few people believed that India will have seven captains by 2022. Few people anticipated that Virat Kohli’s resignation from captaincy positions would bring about instability and leadership disarray.

Rohit Sharma, the captain, suffered from a lack of coordination between the team administration and the selection committee. Rohit appeared in 39 of the 71 games India played in 2022, missing up to 32 games due to illness, injury, and workload management.
India had four Test skippers and as many as five captains in limited-overs cricket in 2022 as a result, creating an unsettling musical chair. When India was eliminated from the Asia Cup in the Super Four rounds after losses to Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Rohit’s captaincy came under scrutiny.

Rohit was not helped by the success of Hardik Pandya, who earlier this year won the IPL with Gujarat Titans because the replacement was poised and ready to take over. As Rohit missed an ODI and two Tests in December due to a further injury sustained in Bangladesh.

Hardik was selected as India’s T20I captain for the team’s opening match of the new year during the final week of the year. In ODIs, he was promoted to the position of vice-captain. Although Rohit might not continue as white-ball captain for very long, let alone as T20I captain, the BCCI has not formally announced the change in guard.
The story of Rohit’s captaincy in 2022 is an example of a promise that wasn’t kept.

Pant’s bad luck

The unfortunate news of Rishabh Pant’s car accident came just a day before the year 2022 was about to say good bye. Though, the good news is that this Delhi boy is out of danger, but the bad news is that his professional career may never be the same as he has suffered injuries and burns all over his body.

But even before this serious car crash, Pant struggled with form and injury. However, at the start of 2022, his bat was scoring runs across formats, barring T20Is. Pant’s standout knock has to be the one against England in Manchester ODI. With the series on the line, Pant saved his best for the last and smashed unbeaten 125 to take India to a famous 2-1 series win over England in their backyard.

As far as Test matches goes, Pant has had a fabulous year, averaging over 64 with the bat from six Tests. He scored two hundreds, both of which came in overseas conditions. The first of them against South Africa in Cape Town and that too in the 2nd innings. The next hundred came in the 5th rescheduled Test match against England in Birmingham. The southpaw smashed 146 runs in the 1st innings to go with 57 runs in the second innings. Unfortunately, India failed to register a win in both the Tests.
However, Rohit and Dravid made things worse for this Delhi star, benching him for the majority of the T20 World Cup tournament in Australia and only giving him one match before the semis.

Karthik, who made a remarkable return to the Indian side at the age of 37, was entrusted with the responsibility to play the finisher’s role. However, Karthik not only failed to get the job done with the bat but the veteran cricketer also messed up a lot of chances behind the stumps, missing stumpings and catches.

Both Pant and Karthik now are facing times. Pant, on the one hand, failed to keep his form and failing in his new role of as an opener. While Karthik, on the other hand, has nowhere to go at this age. Team India’s experiments with Karthik in 2022 are not going to be repeated again in 2023.
But an injured Pant is not good news for Indian cricket fans, especially when another left-hander Ishan Kishan has hit the fastest double century as opener in Bangladesh!

Hardik, the new leader

In a new guise, Hardik Pandya returned during the year. The more fit and experienced player set the bar high, inspiring Gujarat Titans to a fantastic IPL victory.
The all-around player not only skilfully led the Titans, but he rediscovered self-assurance and that was evident in T20 Internationals. In the IPL 2022, Pandya drove Gujarat Titans forward, hitting 487 runs in 15 games at an average of 44.27 and four half-centuries.
Additionally, Pandya claimed eight wickets during the competition.
Finding a long-time leader for India white-ball format is a priority for the BCCI. Team India seeks a full-time T20 skipper who can serve as the team’s captain at the 2024 World Cup as Rohit Sharma approaches retirement.

The transition has already started as Hardik is appointed skipper of the T20 team for the upcoming series against Sri Lanka beginning January 3. The fact that the 27-year-old Baroda player has also been named vice-captain of the ODI team suggests that the current administration intends to use him as the team’s long-term white ball commander once Rohit Sharma, 35, decides to end his stellar international career.

SKY earns it

Unquestionably, Suryakumar Yadav’s incredible performance in 2022 was Indian cricket’s biggest success story.
The 30-year-old Mumbaikar who made his senior international debut at age 32 appears to be eager to make up for lost time. SKY became just the second player to score over 1,000 runs in a single year of play. His staggering strike rate of 187.43 and average of 46.56 resulted in 1,164 runs. SKY’s all-around batting prowess has even led to comparisons to South African star AB de Villiers, has two T20I tonnes and 12 half-centuries to his name.
Simply told, Suryakumar has earned the privilege because to his diligence and his regular T20I performances over the past year.

A tough road ahead

Over the past few years, India has discovered a wealth of talent thanks to the IPL. If that’s a luxury for the Indian selectors, they also have a duty to support young players who have succeeded on the international stage.
Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer are two examples. Iyer’s dependable play helped India defeat Bangladesh in the recent hard-fought second Test at Mirpur, but Kishan took most of his one and only opportunity in the final ODI by slamming a double hundred to give India a convincing consolation victory after Bangladesh had won the series.

If players like Iyer and Kishan are encouraged and handled with care, the entire Indian cricket will benefit. Dropping inactive veterans is one option, so be it. The selectors need to make some audacious decisions!

—INDIA NEWS STREAM

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