2nd T20I: India faces Bhuvneshwar Kumar dilemma as they pray for game time | Cricket news

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Bhuvneshwar Kumar faces a tough challenge to stay relevant in the shortest format as a young Indian team, looking for some playing time, is expected to face heavy resistance from New Zealand in the second T20 International on Sunday. The series opener in Wellington was abandoned due to inclement weather and the Indian players must be eager to get into the park, which has arguably the most beautiful backdrop.

Ironically, the region where the ground is located is known as ‘Bay of Plenty’ and Indian cricket has plenty of food for thought in its T20 format approach at the moment.

Although the Sky Stadium was shorter in size, the Indian team will have to make adjustments as the ‘Bay Oval’ ground has larger side boundaries and is an open ground unlike Wellington.

The Bhuvi Riddle

On this tour, the presence of an almost 33-year-old Bhuvneshwar is one such dilemma that the team management may face. There are some probing questions and the quicker the answers are sought the better it would be for Indian cricket.

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Will Bhuvneshwar be there for the T20 World Cup in 2024 with his pace dropping sharply? Does he have enough time to get around his problems because he’s not powerful enough on good hitting lanes? There aren’t many T20Is on the list next year and he’s going to be largely a single-format player, so where does he go? At this point, all the answers seem to be negative and so the question arises whether playing the eldest pacer is comparable to taking away a youngster’s chance to get into the rhythm.

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It is a double-edged sword that interim head coach VVS Laxman and captain Pandya face.

Not playing Bhuvneshwar when he is about to reach a personal milestone (4 extra wickets for the highest tally of 40 in a calendar year) can leave him demoralized.

Most of his 36 wickets came in bowler-friendly conditions and against lesser opponents. On slightly flatter wickets and against better batting attacks, Bhuvneshwar has become a cropper.

But playing him will be a missed opportunity for team management to watch the pairing of Umran Malik and Mohammed Siraj take on the power of the likes of Finn Allen, Glenn Phillips and Devon Conway in pressure situations.

Umran, by far India’s fastest bowler, needs to be looked after. Pakistan has shown what extreme pace can do with Haris Rauf, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah.

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Ishan or Shubman, the opener’s choice?

At the time Rishabh Pant was named team vice-captain for the T20I series it was a given that he would open, but whether Shubman will pair Gill with his newfound confidence in this format or specialist Ishan Kishan is to be seen for that.

In the case of Kishan, who struggles with real pace and prefers swing, there will be two left-handers at the top while Gill’s presence will make it a left-right combination.

The other factor would be the choice between KKR skipper Shreyas Iyer, not exactly a fast starter in T20Is, and the dynamic Deepak Hooda, who can also bowl short off-breaks from wicket to wicket.

To accommodate both Hooda and Shreyas, Kishan had to be dropped from the playing XI. Sanju Samson and skipper Pandya are the two batters along with Suryakumar Yadav, who was to play both the role of enforcer and finisher.

Match between Chahal and Phillips

Glenn Phillips, one of the most exciting T20 batsmen of recent times, will be in contention when the wily Yuzvendra Chahal gets his first game in many moons after being inexplicably benched by regular head coach Rahul Dravid during the T20 World Cup.

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But the last completed T20I match on this ground witnessed Phillips scoring 108 off 51 balls with a whopping eight sixes against a quality West Indies strike.

With Ravichandran Ashwin’s T20I career all but over, Washington Sundar will get a long run as a specialist off-spinner, while Harshal Patel will also get playing time to regain his rhythm that let him down just before the World Cup. Arshdeep Singh as a left arm zoomer looks like a good starter in the next two games.

Teams: India: Hardik Pandya (captain), Rishabh Pant (vc and wk), Shubman Gill, Suryakumar Yadav, Sanju Samson, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan (wk), Deepak Hooda, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, Harshal Patel , Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umran Malik, Mohammed Siraj, Arshdeep Singh New Zealand: Kane Williamson (Captain), Devon Conway, Finn Allen, Glenn Phillips, Devon Cinway, Daryl Mitchell, Adam Milne, Michael Bracewll, Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Blair Tickner.

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