After a successful campaign in the recently concluded ICC Champions Trophy, where they finished as runners-up, India will now lock horns against West Indies in their own den. India did well but lost the final encounter against Pakistan at The Oval by 280 runs as Pakistan lifted the title for the first time since its inception in 1998. They are now scheduled to play five One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and a solitary Twenty20 International (T20I) against West Indies in their backyard. India have picked a stable squad and made just a couple of changes from their squad for the Champions Trophy. Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah have been rested while Rishabh Pant and Kuldeep Yadav have been given a chance to showcase their talent on the big stage.
India start as favourites going into the tournament as they have gelled well as a unit in the recent times whereas West Indies have failed to inspire confidence in this format. One can expect India to give more opportunities to youngsters Kuldeep Yadav and Rishabh Pant in the series, which is also a golden opportunity for them to make an impact and leave a mark. Kuldeep Yadav is a left-arm chinaman bowler, which is very rare in the international circuit. There are hardly any chinaman bowlers in the international circuit and Kuldeep Yadav is a one of a kind. Kuldeep Yadav has been outstanding with the ball in hand and has the potential to become one of the bests.
It wouldn’t be wrong in acknowledging Kuldeep Yadav as a mystery spinner. He gets his stock delivery to turn in to the right-hander while his googly moves away. It has been very difficult for the batsmen to pick him off the hand as he bowls both the deliveries without any discernible change in action. A left-arm chinaman can be beneficial for a team to have, he brings plenty of variations to the table and can be deadly if there is some turn in the pitch. Most of the batsmen are not used to confront chinaman bowlers, which certainly gives Kuldeep Yadav an edge.
Kuldeep Yadav did reasonably well for Kolkata Knight Riders in this edition of the Indian Premier League. He bowled at crucial junctures and chipped wickets. Although he was taken for runs at times, which may perhaps be due to inexperience. But one can expect him to learn and evolve as an effective bowler and with the age being on his side, he will only get better. Also, there is a dearth of wrist spinners in the Indian line-up, if Kuldeep Yadav manages to do well he will certainly attract enormous attention and cement his side in the shorter format. Wrist spinners are wicket taking options, but one needs to persist with them even if they leak runs.
Kuldeep Yadav has some decent numbers to his name. Kuldeep Yadav has played 23 First-Class games where he scalped 85 wickets at 32.63, whereas in just 10 List A games he has 14 wickets at 27 under his belt. He did remarkably well in his Test debut against Australia at Dharamsala earlier this year and gave a testament to his effectiveness. He has only played 15 IPL games so far, but with 18 wickets in his basket, he has grabbed attention with his craft and guile. If given a chance, Kuldeep should look to make an immediate impact with the ball and make his presence unavoidable for the upcoming series. With 2019 World approaching, India would find themselves in a good position if they have an established chinaman bowler at their service.
Rishabh Pant, on the other hand, has been one of the most recognised talents in the domestic circuit. The 19-year-old southpaw is known for his explosive batting and has done a commendable job in his appearances in the domestic circuit. Rishabh is tipped to be one of the next big things in Indian cricket and has already grabbed massive attention. Rishabh Pant is belligerent with the bat but well capable of anchoring an innings. His colossal knock of 308 against Maharashtra in a Ranji Trophy fixture last year is a testament to it.
Rishabh Pant has already made his T20I debut for India against England earlier this year, where he remained unbeaten on 5. Pant has been a regular for Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League. He played all the 14 games this season and scored 366 runs at a healthy average of 26.14 at a blistering strike-rate of 165.61. One shouldn’t forget, he smashed a determined half-century in DD’s opening game this season. His gritty innings came just two days after his father’s demise, which speaks about his strong character. He earned accolades from many cricketing greats for this memorable outing but was unfortunate to have ended on the losing side. Pant can accelerate in no time and clear the boundary at will, which is a rare quality. He has immense talent and looks promising.
With Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni being in the twilight of their career, it’s a big opportunity for Rishabh Pant to make an impact. Pant has done exceptionally well in First-Class cricket, where he averages 68.81 from 11 games with a tally of 1101 runs. Although his numbers in List A cricket won’t be awe-inspiring but it’s just a matter of time when he finds consistency in this format. Rishabh Pant is just 19-year-old and has a long way to go. He has shown immense character and skills at such a tender age and if groomed well, Pant can develop into an impactful batsman.
Both, Rishabh Pant and Kuldeep Yadav were also a part of five-member standby list for the ICC Champions Trophy. They have done enough in the domestic circuit to deserve a chance and the series against West Indies would be an apt occasion to give them a go. India will play their first game on Friday at Port of Spain and the anticipation for the same is on a rise.