The BCCI has requested Avesh Khan and Venkatesh Iyer to remain in the UAE after the IPL to join Umran Malik as net bowlers for the Indian squad for the T20 World Cup. They are presently not on the list of standby players, which includes Shreyas Iyer, Shardul Thakur, and Deepak Chahar, but India, like the other teams, has until October 15 to make changes to their final roster for the tournament.
After a string of standout performances for Delhi Capitals in the first leg of the IPL, Avesh accompanied India to England earlier this year. However, after injuring his thumb during a tour game, he had to return home, and while he has remained on the periphery of the national team, Iyer’s inclusion in the list of “net bowlers” came as a surprise, primarily because, while he bowls seam-up, he has made his name as an opening batter for Kolkata Knight Riders.
Iyer, a Madhya Pradesh player who made his List A and T20 debuts in 2015 before making his first-class debut in 2018, has been one of the standout performers in the second leg of the IPL in the UAE, particularly with the bat at the top of the order for Knight Riders. He has a strike rate of 123.25 and has scored 265 runs in eight innings. He’s also taken three wickets in 7.3 overs with an economy rate of 8.53, including two for 29 in a league match against Delhi Capitals.
Meanwhile, Avesh has continued to shine for Capitals, and is their leading wicket-taker by a long shot: With a 7.50 economy rate in 15 games, he’s eight strikes ahead of second-placed Axar Patel, who has 15.
Malik, the third member of the net bowlers’ line-up, has been another outsider who has caught the eye during the present IPL, owing to his velocity and ability to consistently hit speeds of over 150kph. After T Natarajan having to miss the second leg of the IPL because to Covid-19-related difficulties, the 21-year-old Jammu & Kashmir rookie was elevated from net bowler to the Sunrisers Hyderabad team proper. Malik, a rank newcomer, was selected in the Sunrisers’ XI for the team’s last three games after they were knocked out of the league, and he impressed with his speed, even if he didn’t take many wickets – just two – and has been a touch wayward at times.
Because of the IPL, all of India’s players have been in the UAE for the previous two weeks, and they will reunite in time for their first warm-up game against Australia on October 18, three days after the IPL concludes. On October 20, they will play South Africa in their final warm-up game before beginning their main tournament campaign on October 24 against Pakistan.