Are India becoming too focused on T20 cricket?

India were brushed aside for the second one-day international series on the bounce, suffering a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Australia. It followed their 3-0 loss against New Zealand earlier in 2020 and has become a theme of the team of late under Virat Kohli in the 50-over format.

The Blues were one of the leading contenders at the 2019 World Cup, but were knocked out in the semi-finals the Black Caps. The tournament in 2015 was the same story, reaching the last four only to suffer a hammering against Australia. Since winning the World Cup in 2011, India have perhaps been guilty of focusing on 20-over format more than the 50-over game.

The Indian Premier League has allowed their key men to hone their skills in one particular area, but it has also robbed them of their ability to craft long innings. Kohli has been sensational at number three, scoring 43 hundreds with an average of almost 60. Rohit Sharma is equally as dominant at the top of the order with Shikhar Dhawan providing support.

However, the rest of the batting unit are struggling to match the performances of the senior players. With Kohli, Sharma and Dhawan all in their thirties, India’s hierarchy will be concerned looking at the 2023 World Cup and beyond. There have been glimpses of potential from batsmen Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw and Shreyas Iyer, but neither of those batsmen were able to raise their game against the Aussies or New Zealand. Even experienced players such as Mayank Agarwal have been hit and miss, leaving with questions to answer in preparation for the tournament on home soil.

The young players have talent, but whether they have the skill set for 50-over competitions against the elite of the game is another matter. Kohli can cover up a lot of deficiencies, but at a major tournament, all flaws are exposed. India need to find a way to blood their young talent to give them time to thrive before the 2023 World Cup.

Jasprit Bumrah enjoyed an outstanding 2020 IPL season, playing an essential role in the Mumbai Indians’ success as the second leading wicket-taker in the competition. He is one of the primary reasons why the Indians will be considered the leading contenders in the odds in the Indian Premier League betting markets to win the title for the third year in a row. Mumbai will be favoured by all the top bookmakers on the market, especially given that Bumrah will be in the same side as Rohit Sharma, a player often picked out as one to watch. Bumrah’s presence in the ranks is a boost for any T20 side, although he has not had the same success on a team level in the international arena as he has in the IPL.

Bumrah is another player that has grown and developed in the era of the T20 cricket. And although he has excellent averages across the board, he has yet to win a top crown with India. The 27-year-old will be hoping that will change, starting at the World T20 in 2021 and the 50-over World Cup in 2023. For all his quality in the IPL, the change of format to the 50-over game brought underwhelming performances out of the seamer. He was not the only one to endure problems against the Aussies as Yuzvendra Chahal and Navdeep Saini were also taken apart.

Bumrah is the second-ranked ODI bowler in the world and his performances may have been due to fatigue after a long IPL campaign.  His statistics are outstanding, but he has struggled in his last three series, even failing to take a wicket against New Zealand in three matches in February 2020. Players can go off the boil every now and again, but India could have real problems down the road if those issues persist in the 50-over format. There are not many other seamers that their disposal outside of Mohammed Shami to ease the burden. The next 12 months are critical for the Blues.

India always have a talented squad at their disposal, but the skill set of their players outside of a select few are becoming more catered to the shortest format. It could lead to trouble and continued disappointment at the 50-over World Cup, especially the one on home soil in 2023.

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