KOLKATA: It’s almost eight months to the next T20 World Cup and the Indian team management has the global event in mind as they begin the three-match T20 International series against the West Indies at the Eden Gardens here on Wednesday.
The team think-tank will get more than 10 T20I matches apart from the India Premier League (IPL) and the Asia Cup series to sort out its final squad for the T20 WC in Australia.
Batting coach Vikram Rathour clearly spelt out that the strategies from now will be drawn keeping an eye on the World Cup. “We are working towards the World Cup in Australia,” he said during a virtual media interaction. But at the same time, he pointed out that it’s still early days and no specific road map has been arrived at.
“Unfortunately we are struggling a bit with injuries with few people missing out. Till we have everyone available, it’s difficult to make sure what their roles are going to be.”
India will miss vice-captain KL Rahul and allrounder Axar Patel in this series. While Rahul sustained a hamstring strain while fielding in the second ODI in Ahmedabad, Axar is in his “final stage of rehabilitation” after recovering from Covid-19.
Rathour, however, is optimistic that Indian players will not have any trouble Down Under. “The type of batters we have…they are all capable of doing well in such conditions.”
The team tried out Rishabh Pant as an opener in one of the three matches of the recently-concluded ODI series, but it seems that will not be repeated soon. The coach is in favour of utilising the wicketkeeper-batter more as a finisher in the shortest format of the game.
“Pant is a fantastic batter and will do well up the order, but it depends on what the team needs at a particular time,” he said. “We can utilise him in a better way lower down the order as we don’t have many options of a left-hander in the middle-order.”
However, that does not mean that the team will refrain from experimentation in the upcoming series. “We want to give opportunities to young guys and will try to fit them, keeping the conditions in minds,” he remarked.
Keeping the big grounds in Australia in mind, Rathour is happy with venues like Motera (in Ahmedabad) and the Eden Gardens. “Playing on big grounds helps. The closest we get to the real thing the better it is.”
Though the Indian team has one eye on the T20 WC, but Rathour isn’t ignoring the task in hand. “First thing first, we have to win this series. I am sure West Indies will be a very competitive team in this format,” he said.