5 Key Players for India Ahead of the WI Tour

Virat Kohli is not a part of the T20I squad for the five-match series against West Indies

The Indian cricket team will be hoping to forget the horrors of the final of the World Test Championship 2021-23, as they will be touring West Indies for an all-format series. The two teams will be kick-starting the much-anticipated tour on July 12 with a two-match Test series followed by three One Day Internationals and five T20 Internationals. 

Rohit Sharma will continue leading the Men in Blue in the ODIs and the longest format of the game. While the 50-over squad has not changed much courtesy of the ODI World Cup scheduled in India later this year, the Board of Control for Cricket in India has made major changes in the Test squad by dropping Cheteshwar Pujara and including Yashasvi Jaiswal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, and Mukesh Kumar. 

As far as the T20 Internationals are concerned, the big players like Rohit, Virat Kohli, and Ravindra Jadeja have been rested while Hardik Pandya has been given the responsibility of leading the side. 

The India tour of the West Indies is extremely crucial for the players as it will help them gain momentum and confirm their place in the squads for Asia Cup 2023 and the ODI World Cup 2023. In this article, let’s take a look at five players who are likely to play a vital role against the Caribbean side. 

#5 Mohammed Siraj

Mohammed Siraj does not form a part of the T20I squad for India, but he is likely to play a crucial role for the team in the Tests and One Day Internationals. The Men in Blue will be without the services of the veteran pace duo, Jasprit Bumrah, and Mohammed Shami. Thus, Siraj will be one of the most experienced seamers in the team and the responsibility of picking the most wickets and balancing the bowling unit will be on his shoulders.

The Royal Challengers Bangalore seamer last played the WTC final for India against Australia and dished out a decent performance. In the first innings, he picked four wickets in the form of Usman Khawaja, Travis Head, Pat Cummins, and Nathan Lyon at an economy rate of 3.8. Meanwhile, the second innings saw Siraj dismissing David Warner while conceding 80 runs in 20 overs at an economy rate of four. 

As far as his overall stats are concerned, the 29-year-old has played a total of 19 Tests and 24 ODI so far picking 52 and 43 wickets, respectively. 

#4 Shubman Gill

Shubman Gill won the orange cap in IPL 2023

If there is one batter who impressed the most during the 2023 edition of the Indian Premier League, then it has to be Shubman Gill. The young gun defied all odds in the T20 Championship and ended up as the top run-scorer for his franchise Gujarat Titans. Though the team failed to lift the cup for the second time after losing to Chennai Super Kings, Gill made headlines by smacking a stunning 890 runs in 17 matches at an average of over 59.

He also hit a total of three centuries and four fifties. Gill forms a part of the squads for all three formats against West Indies and is likely to emerge as a star for the Indian team. Notably, the batter failed to impress in the WTC final while opening the innings alongside Rohit Sharma, but the odds are in his favor to get back on track. 

#3 Hardik Pandya

In the past few months, Hardik Pandya has not enjoyed much success with the bat and ball. However, the all-rounder continues to be an x-factor for the Indian team in the One Day Internationals and T20 Internationals, considering his glorious records. 

In his international career of less than a decade, Pandya has donned the Indian jersey for a total of 74 ODIs and 87 T20 Internationals, thus far scoring 1584 and 1271 runs respectively at an average of 33 and 25.42. He also has 72 ODI and 69 T20I wickets to his name at an economy rate of 5.62 and 8.15, respectively. 

Apart from his brilliant all-round abilities, the 29-year-old is also likely to impress the cricket fraternity with his leadership skills. Under his captaincy, the Indian cricket team has reached new heights in the shortest format of the game and something similar is expected during the West Indies tour as well. 

#2 Ruturaj Gaikad

Ruturaj Gaikwad is considered the next big thing in the Indian cricket 

Apart from Shubman Gill, another young Indian opening batter who has made an impact in the gentlemen’s game is Ruturaj Gaikwad. He impressed the who’s who of the cricket fraternity during the 2021 edition of the Indian Premier League by steering his franchise Chennai Super Kings to a title win.

Following a lukewarm performance in the 2022 edition, Gaikwad made a comeback this year by scoring 590 runs in 15 innings at an astounding average of 42.14. As a result of his impressive performances both in the IPL and other domestic tournaments, the batter has secured a place in India’s Test and ODI squad for the West Indies tour.

He is yet to make his debut in the longest format of the game while Ruturaj has featured in only one One Day International so far scoring 19 runs after facing 42 balls. This will be a perfect opportunity for the 26-year-old to establish his domination in the two formats and make a case for a permanent place in India’s playing XI. 

#1 Virat Kohli

It should not be hard to guess that Virat Kohli also forms a part of the list that includes five key players for India ahead of the West Indies tour. The former Indian skipper is living a dream form in all formats of the game since the beginning of this year. Kohli has smacked centuries in all formats of the game following his lean patch of two years and his century count in international cricket now stands at 75.  

The batter tried to do some magic in the final inning of the WTC final, however, the lack of support from other players restricted him to a score of 49 runs off 78 balls. Meanwhile, his finest performance in 2023 came during the Indian Premier League as he ended up as the second-highest run-getter for Royal Challengers Bangalore and occupied fourth place in the overall list with 639 runs in 14 matches scoring two hundreds.

Though Virat does not form a part of the T20I squad, he will be playing a vital role for the Indian team in the ODIs and Test matches.