In T20 cricket, the Indian cricket team is still battling the long-tail problem. Even head coach Rahul Dravid admitted that there’s a shortfall of all-rounders in the team. The 5th T20I between India and West Indies even saw Tilak Varma bowl, taking the prized wicket of Nicholas Pooran. While Varma and Yashasvi Jaiswal have been backed to bowl more often by the Indian team management, even former cricketers are lining up, backing this approach by the Indian team.
Former Indian cricketer Aakash Chopra called for the Indian team to push for batters who can bowl and give youngsters like Yashasvi Jaiswal and Tilak Varma a long rope and encouragement to bowl as often as possible. He also called for spin-bowling all-rounder Washington Sundar to become a part of India’s scheme of things in T20I format.
“Considering that most of the current Indian batters don’t bowl even a couple of overs, Indian team must start pushing for batters who do. Yashasvi-Tilak should be given a longer rope…and encouraged to bowl as often as possible. Washington has to be in India’s T20 scheme of things too,” said Chopra in a tweet on X (formerly known as Twitter).
Considering that most of the current Indian batters don’t bowl even a couple of overs, Indian team must start pushing for batters who do. Yashasvi-Tilak should be given a longer rope…and encouraged to bowl as often as possible. Washington has to be in India’s T20 scheme of…
— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) August 16, 2023
Indian stars like Rohit Sharma (11 international wickets) and Virat Kohli (eight international wickets) have not bowled since years despite rolling their arms a bit in their initial years, causing the team to lose out on the variety and options that they could have offered with their part-time bowling. Also, newer stars like Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav have played as specialist batters.
But this was not the case with the Indian team of the old days, with batting stars like Sachin Tendulkar (201 international wickets), Virender Sehwag (136 international wickets), Sourav Ganguly (132 international wickets), Yuvraj Singh (148 international wickets) and Suresh Raina (62 international wickets) being extremely capable with the ball and had the ability to pick up crucial wickets just when their team needed.
The lack of batters who can bowl has caused the team to be heavily dependent on their full-time bowlers like Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umran Malik, Umesh Yadav etc with all-rounders Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja and bowling all-rounders Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin being the only players providing the team with much-needed depth and options due to their capabilities and consistency with both bat and ball.
Tilak (14 wickets in first-class, List A and T20 cricket) and Yashasvi (seven wickets across all formats at the domestic level) were given the ball during the final T20I against West Indies, which India lost. India lost the series 2-3. During the series, India’s batting depth was a key issue.
Notably, ahead of the fourth T20I against the Windies, Indian bowling coach Paras Mhambrey had said that the team is working with Yashasvi and Tilak on their bowling.
“When you have someone who can chip in, it is nice. I have seen Tilak and Yashasvi bowl since U19 days. They are capable of being good bowlers. They can work on it at this level. When you got options like these, it is nice to have them. We will see them bowl soon hopefully, we are working on it. It will take time. Soon, we will see them bowling an over at least,” said Paras in a pre-match press conference.
Coming to Sundar, he has played 123 T20s and scored 1,147 runs at an average of 19.44 and a strike rate of over 120, with three fifties in 80 innings. He also has 93 wickets in the format with the best figures of 3/10.
For India, he has played 35 T20Is, scoring 107 runs with a half-century and having taken 29 wickets.
With ANI inputs
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