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Who Will Replace Avesh Khan In India’s T20I Team?

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By: Navneet Mundhra | BENGALURU
Updated: September 2, 2022 8:14
Avesh Khan with skipper Rohit Sharma
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On Wednesday, India pummeled Hong Kong by 40 runs in the Asia Cup match to qualify for the ‘Super Four’ round, but the shoddy form of seamer Avesh Khan has raised a few questions.

Avesh was completely wayward and looked outrageously innocuous even against Hong Kong batters and was taken to the cleaners. In four overs, he conceded 53 runs as batsmen smashed him without breaking a sweat. What was disconcerting was the fact that despite being carted around, Avesh hardly reeled in variations. He kept bowling in the same areas and didn’t even attempt to change the length and line.

This isn’t the first time that Avesh was smashed to smithereens in death overs. While his overall performance in T20Is in 2022 has been middling, his bowling in death overs is consistently shambolic. His economy rate in these overs is well over 15 and he hasn’t shown any improvement.

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In a couple of T20I matches in 2022, Avesh impressed with the new ball as he has the ability to hit the deck hard and extract bounce on helpful pitches. But this is his only strength and he clearly lacks variety which is essential to survive in international cricket.

One hasn’t seen Avesh generating reverse swing with the old ball or bowling crafty cutters and slow bouncers. Sometimes he gets the yorkers right but is far too inconsistent. Often he ends up bowling in the batsmen’s corridor which makes it easy for them to smoke him. If we take all the factors into account, he’s far too one-dimensional to be successful in international cricket for a long time.

Avesh is only 25 and has age on his side. He certainly can upgrade his skills and turn over a new leaf, as many great pacers have done, but at present, he just doesn’t cut the mustard. His career statistics – 13 scalps in 15 T20I matches with an economy rate of 9.10 – are exceedingly poor.

He has been given many chances this year because the management believes he can be a handful on Australian pitches – where the T20 World Cup is scheduled to take place – which offer assistance to hit-the-deck seamers. But it will be too big a gamble to take him to Australia given his current form.

It is not as if India don’t have bowlers who can replace him. Deepak Chahar is injured at the moment but is a much better option than Avesh once he is fit again. Chahar has won many matches for India in the T20I format and bowls with appreciable control and finesse with the new ball as well as the old ball. Moreover, he has the ability to knock off brisk runs, which he has done on many occasions, and that makes him a valuable T20 cricketer. He is likely to be fit before the T20 World Cup.

The leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi is another very fine option. He is quick through the air and is notoriously parsimonious. The 21-year-old has snapped up 15 wickets in 9 matches with a terrific economy rate of 7.15. India already have reliable seamers and medium-pacers such as Bhuvnshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya. Arshdeep Singh is also doing decently well. Harshal Patel too might recover from his injury soon. In such a scenario, it would not be a bad idea to have Bishnoi in the playing XI.

Ideally, the Indian bowling attack must have three seamers and two spinners with a couple of all-rounders. That gives India a host of options to replace Avesh. Indian coach Rahul Dravid and captain Rohit Sharma firmly believe in giving ample chances to youngsters before dropping anyone. Avesh too might get a couple of more matches but it is hard to see him in the squad for the T20 World Cup once players such as Bumrah, Harshal and Chahar return from injuries.

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