Aakash Chopra pointed out that the Indian team would have to use the T20I series to figure out their ideal middle-order batsmen, as most of the aspirants for those spots play in the top order in the IPL.
“All the batsmen India has, whether it is Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pndey, Sanju Samson, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul or Virat Kohli – they all bat in the Top 3 in the IPL. So, India needs to figure out who will bat from No.4 to No.6.”
While stating at the outset that he is thinking slightly out of the box, the reputed commentator picked Shikhar Dhawan to open the batting with KL Rahul. Indian skipper Virat Kohli made an appearance at his usual No. 3 spot.
“I am going slightly radical while picking the playing XI. I want KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan as openers and Virat Kohli at No.3.”
Aakash Chopra opted to go for Manish Pandey instead of Shreyas Iyer at No. 4. He reasoned that the latter is likely to be a part of the Test squad as well, while the former did not get a chance in the ODIs and will fly back home post the T20I series.
“I am going with Manish Pandey at No.4. I have not picked Shreyas Iyer, I have picked Manish Pandey because I feel Iyer will be a part of the Test team as well but Pandeyji will come back without playing a match. That is not right.”
Aakash Chopra added that he could have gone with Sanju Samson for the No. 4 position. He stated that he prefers Pandey because he is higher in the pecking order and has got limited opportunities.
“I could have kept Sanju Samson as well at No.4 but I will have to play Pandeyji ahead of Sanju because in terms of hierarchy, he was selected first and played first and he gets fewer chances.”
Aakash Chopra opined that he would want Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja to bat at the No. 5 and No. 6 positions, with the latter playing the role of a sixth bowler and the former unlikely to roll his arm over.
“At No.5, I am playing Hardik with Jaddu at No.6. So, I get six bowling options. I am giving a bit of batting responsibility to Jaddu.”
While observing that India is likely to play only one out of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, the former KKR player picked Deepak Chahar, T Natarajan, Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar as the other four bowlers.
“After that my five bowlers – I will play one out of Bumrah and Shami, then Deepak Chahar, Natarajan, Chahal and Washington Sundar.”
Aakash Chopra signed off by highlighting that Washington Sundar should be able to handle the willow at the No. 7 spot.
“Washington Sundar will be my No.7 batsman, so that will be my playing XI.”
Aakash Chopra has tried to strengthen India’s bowling department considering that it was their Achilles heel in the ODI series. But the Indian team management is unlikely to go down that route, as playing Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja at the No. 5 and No. 6 positions might make the batting a little thin.