The IPL is in full swing and the players who will play the ICC T20 world cup are under intense scrutiny for their performance. The Mumbai Indians trio of Hardik Pandya, Surya Kumar, and Ishan Kishan seem to be under some amount of public pressure due to their underwhelming performances up until now. They have struggled to score runs and have not delivered on their potential. Eyebrows are bound to be raised because of India’s bench strength and calls have already been made to replace these players.
Before the match against Punjab where Hardik scored a scintillating 30-ball 40, he was unable to time the ball. He had not got a 50 ever since the 2021 season had commenced. In the 9 matches, he has just scored 95 runs and this is on top of him, not bowling due to injury concerns.
In such conditions, it would be prudent to look for a replacement for him in the world cup squad and we look at 5 options here.
1. Shardul Thakur
This name has been doing the rounds for some time now. His performances in the England series just went on to consolidate his reputation as a credible all-rounder. He scored two 50s in the fourth test and broke crucial partnerships in a precarious situation. He is touted as the “partnership-breaker” and also carries the vibe of being able to make things happen on the field when nothing much is happening. He has grown into a well-rounded cricketer under MSD’s captaincy and could be the most perfect replacement for an underperforming Pandya.
2. Deepak Chahar
A name that most people thought would be an automatic pick in the T20 squad after his heroics in Sri Lanka, it was surprising to not have him in the squad. He played a whirlwind of a knock in the second ODI where he took the team across the line by scoring 69 runs off 82 balls. All hopes were doomed as half the team was in the pavilion yet Chahar won the game single-handedly. His batting has substantially improved and his off-cutters are hugely effective on slow pitches of UAE.
3. Sanju Samson
There was a close call between Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson in the run-up to the world cup selection. The selectors decided to go ahead with Kishan but his form has been horrendous. Samson could be picked instead of Hardik Pandya and the selectors could go for an all-out bowler instead of Kishan. Both Kishan and Pandya are not serving their core utility at this point and therefore a swap seems logical. Samson has been contesting for the orange cap with Rahul. His scores in UAE look 42, 48, 4, 70*, and 82.
4. Arshdeep Singh
Arshdeep seems to be the find of the season for Punjab with his overall performances. He has played 10 games in the 2021 season and in these games he has picked up an astounding 16 wickets. He has been extremely economical bowling at 7.71. He has been the attacking option for Rahul whenever Punjab is looking to take a wicket. With the momentum in favor of Arshdeep and the world cup squad filled with solid batters, Arshdeep’s bowling could be the trump card.
5. Venkatesh Iyer
The biggest gain for KKR in this year’s IPL has been discovering Iyer. He has been brilliant at the top of the order with Gill and scored 193 runs in the 5 matches he has played yet. He has averaged around 50 and struck at 142. He has also been a handy left-handed bowler picking up 3 wickets in this season. He could fit the role of the backup all-rounder in the team and would solve the team selection conundrum with relative ease.