India will provide opportunities for youngsters to fight for a spot in the team, ahead of the men’s T20 World Cup in 2020, captain Virat Kohli has said.
India have come close in T20 World Cups in the past – they were finalists in 2014 and semi-finalists in 2016 – but haven’t quite been able to crack the code in the format they revolutionised with their win in the inaugural edition in 2007.
A year removed from the tournament, India have 26 more T20Is lined up, after the washout of the first T20I against South Africa in Dharamsala, and are hoping to put together a young, vibrant team for the event. However, the onus is on the youngsters to take their chances.
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“Youngsters are being pushed into the side from time to time because you need to figure out who are the people who have the mentality, the mindset, and the character to take the [team’s] vision forward,” Kohli told Star Sports.
“Even when I came into the team, it’s not like you got 15 opportunities. You would get five, and you have to make the most of it. And that’s the level that we are playing at.”
In the squad for the South Africa series, the spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have been rested, in favour of Washington Sundar and Rahul Chahar. The pace unit has been rejigged, too, with Khaleel Ahmed, Deepak Chahar and Navdeep Saini in the squad.
The experimentation will continue, head coach Ravi Shastri said, till India can find “a pool of 18 players” to choose from specifically for the World Cup. “I would say a pool of 18 players [would be ideal],” he said. “We already have 15, so if you get another three from the outside in that span, you have got your pool. But the important thing is to be prepared to invest, not be scared that you might lose an odd game or two.”
Finding that pool, however, will be difficult, and it all depends on the players making the most of their opportunities. “The guys who grab the opportunities quickly, they grab the opportunities, it’s as simple as that,” Kohli added.
“I think it’s a delicate balance to strike. But it’s necessary, because you have 30 matches to go, and you need to figure out how much time can be given to each individual for them to ease into the team.”