India At T20 World Cup: Can Arshdeep, Siraj Pass The Acid Test In The Americas?

Both Siraj and Arshdeep, who have played 10 and 44 T20 Internationals respectively, have not had the best of times in the IPL but they have got the nod on the basis of their past performances for India

Arshdeep Singh, PBKS Vs GT, IPL 2024, AP Photo
Punjab Kings' Arshdeep Singh, centre, celebrates the dismissal of Gujarat Titans' Wriddhiman Saha during their Indian Premier League 2024 in Mullanpur on April 21, 2024. Photo: Surjeet Yadav/AP

Four spinners in India's T20 World Cup squad suggest that the Indian selectors are expecting slow turners in the Americas but have they missed a trick by picking only three pacers in the final 15? (More Cricket News)

Also questionable is the choice of pacers.

Before the IPL began, Jasprit Bumrah was the lone certainty in the pace department while the other contenders had to prove themselves in the league.

As it turned out on Tuesday, the selectors chose to play safe and picked Mohammed Siraj and Arshdeep Singh to support the one-of-a-kind Bumrah in the ICC event beginning June 1.

The likes of Sandeep Sharma, Avesh Khan and T Natarajan, who all have impressed with their death bowling skills in this IPL, were ignored.

Both Siraj and Arshdeep, who have played 10 and 44 T20 Internationals respectively, have not had the best of times in the IPL but they have got the nod on the basis of their past performances for India.

The duo has the ability to swing the new ball but in the shortest format, how one handles batters' onslaught in the death overs is equally important if not more. That is one aspect of the game in which both Arshdeep and Siraj have been off the mark in the IPL.

Siraj has leaked run at 9.50 runs per over while Arshdeep has been unusually expensive, leaking 9.63 runs per over though he has 12 wickets to his name in nine games. He picked up 10 wickets during the 2022 T20 World Cup.

In the left-arm pacer's case, his form in the death overs has been worrying but the selectors have also considered his healthy record in national colours, having taken 62 wickets at a striking average of 20.87 and a decent economy rate of 8.63. Siraj has an economy rate of 8.78 in 10 T20 Internationals.

In former chief selector MSK Prasad's opinion, taking three pacers to the World Cup will be enough and he is also fine with the chosen men.

"The pitches over there are expected to assist the slower bowlers and that is why they have gone with four spin options.

"In the playing eleven, I see only two specialist pacers playing alongside Hardik Pandya," Prasad, who is currently a strategic consultant with Lucknow Super Giants, told PTI.

"I would like to start with Bumrah and Siraj but the management can rotate between Siraj and Arshdeep depending on the composition of opposition batters."

Prasad described it as a "balanced squad" even though he felt K L Rahul deserved a place.

"On the batting front, it is unfortunate that someone of K L Rahul's quality has missed but I am sure he will make a strong comeback," said the former India wicketkeeper, who would also like to see both Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal in the playing eleven.

However, all don't agree with Prasad's views on India's bowling composition for the ICC event.

T20 World Cup-winning captain Aaron Finch feels Bumrah needed more support in the pace department with Siraj and Arshdeep not being consistent enough.

"I was surprised by the four spinners as well. I had Rinku (Singh) in there and only two spinners.

"In my initial squad, I had the extra quick because I think, because of the inconsistency that we have seen with everyone bar Jasprit Bumrah with the ball, especially in the power-play, I wanted the extra cover of that quick," he said.

"And if they want to play three spinners in the game, one of them has to be prepared to bowl in the powerplay, and I don't see any of those guys doing it consistently, so I think they've backed themselves into a corner slightly," Finch told 'Star Sports'.

Former West Indies fast bowler Ian Bishop added that four spinners in a squad of 15 is more of a luxury than necessity.

"I guess spin will play a part in the tournament. The only concern I have is that the pitches for the World Cup may be slightly different from the ones we have seen in bilateral series or domestic tournaments. So I think it's a luxury to have four spinners rather than it being a necessity," said Bishop.