India have rested their three premier ODI pacers for this T20I series, banking on their second-string attack.

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India’s T20I series against Bangladesh will also mark a huge step into them identifying their core pace bowlers for the T20 World Cup next year. With the event set to be staged in Australia, India are seeking the ideal group of pacers, building a back-up group to the main core of Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami.

For the Bangladesh series, Khaleel Ahmed, Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar are the main pacers for India although it is likely they are tussling it out for one spot given that Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar and Shami, alongside all-rounder Hardik, will likely fulfil all positions for the T20 World Cup.

Read | India in T20s – still a work in progress

The worrying factor is that despite India constantly chopping and changing their pacers in the last two years in this format, they haven’t identified a clear cut plan for that fourth main pacer. As many as 14 pace bowlers (and all-rounders bowling medium pace) have been tried in the last two years in this format by India.

India's fast bowlers in T20Is since 2017

Player

Inns

Wkts

Ave

Econ

SR

JJ Bumrah

21

23

21.82

6.81

19.2

B Kumar

24

23

25.82

6.96

22.2

HH Pandya

23

23

26.78

8.51

18.8

JD Unadkat

9

14

18.42

8.41

13.1

KK Ahmed

11

11

31.9

8.77

21.8

SN Thakur

7

8

30.25

8.8

20.6

UT Yadav

6

8

24.37

8.86

16.5

DL Chahar

4

6

14

6

14

NA Saini

5

6

22.83

8.05

17

V Shankar

6

5

38.2

9.09

25.2

S Kaul

3

4

21

8.68

14.5

Mohammed Siraj

3

3

49.33

12.33

24

A Nehra

4

3

37.33

8

28

Mohammed Shami

1

0

-

15.33

-

But aside from Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar, even Shami has little claim to the third bowler’s slot. Although, his recent ODI exploits should tilt the balance slightly in his favour.

The interessting fact here is that none of the bowlers that have been tried clearly fit the bill of the extra seamer India seek in this format. Containment is a huge strategy for India’s bowling group in T20Is and in the potent pace attack led by Bumrah and the spin twins, they have a challenging bowling group.

Read | How have India fared without Virat Kohli in T20s?

The others tested all leak runs as evident from their economies while Chahar, like at Chennai-based India T20 League franchise, is a new ball bowler mainly. A glance at the record of the three pacers show different trends.

SHARDUL THAKUR IN T20Is and T20s

Format

Inns

Wkts

Ave

Econ

SR

T20Is

7

8

30.25

8.8

20.6

T20s

73

82

25.92

8.39

18.5

Thakur is a very ordinary T20 seamer even at domestic level as evident from his tendency to leak runs both at lower levels and in the highest level of the game.

KHALEEL AHMED IN T20Is and T20s

Format

Inns

Wkts

Ave

Econ

SR

T20Is

11

11

31.9

8.77

21.8

T20s

36

59

18.08

7.87

13.7

Khaleel Ahmed, on the other hand, keeps showcasing his potency for the Hyderabad-based Indian T20 League franchise every year, but his International numbers are a far cry from his domestic stats in this format; in particular, the strike rate and economy have taken a serious hit.

DEEPAK CHAHAR IN T20Is and T20s

Format

Inns

Wkts

Ave

Econ

SR

T20Is

4

6

14

6

14

T20s

62

72

22.22

7.28

18.2

Chahar has been impressive so far but that is primarily due to the role he has been handed. It is also the only role in which he has revelled so far and as things stand, it appears he is first in line to be that fourth seamer.

When Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah do return, Chahar could handle the new ball with Bhuvneshwar freeing up more overs for Bumrah in the death. But this series is likely to be a last-ditch chance for Thakur and Khaleel to step up and show what they are capable of.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Ishara S. Kodikara