The freshness, that largely came with seamers Shardul Thakur and T Natarajan, could be a pointer that India need to groom a solid backup pool for Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami. For too long now, the Indian team management have enjoyed the luxury of Bumrah, Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Now as their careers wear on, as evident in recent times, they need to be wrapped in cotton wool. At the same time, the management has been accused of chopping and changing.
While Shardul proudly claimed after the match that the Indian team will carry momentum into the three-T20I series, he doesn’t find a place in the designated T20 side. Shardul, for one, hasn’t been awarded a long rope in the last two years. With workload management likely to swing in and Navdeep Saini suffering a pasting, it won’t be a bad idea to retain Shardul for the series.
“Team was selected long back. Since I was not part of the T20 series, I wasn’t thinking about it at all. But if you look at the Indian team that landed on Australian soil, we are looking at it as a six-match series not two ODI and T20 series,” Shardul said after the match.
There’s also a theory that the deluge of T20 cricket has hampered India’s one-day cricket. After suffering a clean sweep in ODIs in New Zealand earlier this year, Kohli had claimed the format had very little relevance. For the likes of Shardul, though, it’s a chance to stake a claim with two T20 World Cups around the corner.
“Different sort of cricket is being played in 50-over cricket. But both are white-ball formats. As a bowler, I feel executing plans irrespective of format is the key. Playing bilateral or world cup doesn’t matter,” the Mumbai pacer reckoned.
While the emphasis is on managing and preserving Bumrah and Shami, the team management could actually look at the T20I series as an opportunity to strengthen the pool. Natarajan is an encouraging start as Shardul would testify: “He is good and executed his yorker. He came back well. That shows character. We need players like him who can come back and retain his confidence.”
The scars of the ODI series may take time to heal but it could be a fresh start in the T20I series starting Thursday.