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Rediff.com  » Cricket » How Samson, Chahal, Dube Made The Cut

How Samson, Chahal, Dube Made The Cut

By HARISH KOTIAN
May 01, 2024 08:52 IST
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Unlike the IPL, the wickets in the United States and the West Indies could be slow and could assist spinners.
That could be why India went in for experience in their batting ahead of strike rates, points out Harish Kotian.

IMAGE: While he bats at No. 3 for Rajasthan Royals, Sanju Samson is capable of playing the finisher's role down the order. Photographs: BCCI

The selectors went on expected line as the top performers in IPL 2024 were picked for the T20 World Cup.

A lot of debate in recent weeks focussed on the wicket-keeping slot, mainly Sanju Samson, who had been in smashing form for the Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2024.

With Rishabh Pant making a dream comeback in his first outing in nearly 15 months he was virtually assured of a place in the team but there were nearly three to four candidates for the second wicket-keeping slot.

 

Samson, by virtue of his consistency and a higher strike rate, pipped K L Rahul, while Jitesh Sharma's poor returns with the bat saw him miss out. Jitesh had been the preferred wicket-keeper for India in T20s in recent series, but after scoring just 128 runs at a strike rate of 125 he fell behind in the race.

Dinesh Karthik had firmly put himself in the race with some sensational knocks as the finisher for Royal Challengers Bengaluru, tallying 262 runs from 10 games at a strike rate of 195 but even he could not dislodge Samson, a huge fan favourite.

Perhaps the age factor -- DK is 38 -- went against him. Already, India have an ageing squad for the World Cup, with Yashasvi Jaiswal (22), Rishabh Pant (26), Sanju Samson (29), Arshdeep Singh (25) and Kuldeep Yadav (29) the only four players in the squad under the age of 30.

However, there was no denying Samson, who has been in the form of his life and rightfully deserves his place in the team. He looks much more mature in this IPL and has time and again come good in pressure situations for the Royals, which helped tilt the scales in his favour.

While he bats at No. 3 for the Royals, there is no doubt that Samson is also capable of playing the finisher's role down the order. With the pitches expected to aid spin more than the pacers, Samson's ability to dominate the spinners in the middle overs could come in quite handy if he does get the chance.

The team management has been guilty of not giving Samson enough backing in the past but hopefully this time he will get his chances on the back of his good showing in the IPL.

Samson has tallied 385 runs in nine games at a strike rate of 161, with four fifties, while also showing superb temperament as the captain in leading Royals to the top of the standings with eight wins from nine games.

His latest knock, 71 not out from 31 balls against Lucknow Super Giants, when he rescued the Royals from a difficult start to power them to a superb victory.

From 78/3 in the ninth over, Samson and Dhruv Jurel (52 not out from 34 balls) posted an unbroken stand of 121 to take Royals to a comfortable win in the end, with an over to spare.

His Royals' team-mate Yashasvi Jaiswal might consider himself fortunate to make the cut ahead of Shubman Gill. Jaiswal hasn't lived up to his billing. Except for his century (104 not out) against the Mumbai Indians, he hasn't done much with the bat for 249 runs at a strike rate of 154. On the other hand, Gill has scored 320 runs from 10 games at a strike rate of 140.

Being a left-hander worked to Jaiswal's favour, with Gill relegated as the travelling reserve.

Sunrisers Hyderabad's explosive left-handed opener Abhishek Sharma must consider himself unlucky not to be picked after such a fine run with the bat. The 23 year old has hit the most sixes by an Indian in IPL 2024, with 27 sixes from nine games. Only the big-hitting Heinrich Klaasen (28 sixes) is ahead of Abhishek for most sixes in the tournament so far.

Abhishek has slammed 303 runs from nine games at a mind-boggling strike rate of 214 -- the highest by any batter this season ahead of his SRH team-mate Travis Head.

IMAGE: Shivam Dube has set the IPL alight with his belligerent strokeplay for champions CSK.

Shivam Dube's selection was a rather straightforward one for the selectors. The Chennai Super Kings all-rounder's no-holds barred approach in the middle overs has turned him into a star. The left-hander has destroyed every bowling attack that has come his way to hit 350 runs at a strike rate of 172 with three fifties.

However, Hardik Pandya, who has been named vice-captain, will surely start ahead of Dube. Hardik may also be needed to bowl a few overs while also play the finisher's role in the absence of Rinku Singh, who did no wrong to find himself out of favour. Rinku boasts of an amazing record for India in T20s, for 356 runs in 15 games at a strike rate of 176.

What could have gone against Rinku was the lack of opportunities for the Kolkata Knight Riders this season. The left-hander has faced just 82 balls in nine games in IPL 2024, scoring 123 runs at a strike rate of 150.

India will pin their hopes on Rishabh Pant to provide the spark in the lower order along with Ravindra Jadeja, who is quite capable with the bat. But the long tail could be a problem for the Indians.

Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Kuldeep Yadav don't have a good record with the bat in T20 cricket, which could see all-rounder Axar Patel getting the nod ahead of leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal in most games.

IMAGE: Yuzvendra Chahal has defied all odds to make it back to the Indian T20 team for the World Cup.

Chahal also forced his way through with a good showing in IPL 2024. Chahal is the highest wicket-taker in IPL history with 239 wickets in 181 games at an economy of just under eight.

He has been a consistent performer for Royals with 27 wickets in IPL 2022, 21 wickets in IPL 2023 and he already has 13 wickets in nine games this season. He could be quite a handful if pitches in the World Cup offer assistance for the spinners.

Along with fellow wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav, he could form a good wicket-taking pairing in the middle overs, which could prove crucial in low-scoring contests on slow wickets.

India have gone for a spin-heavy attack with four slower bowlers in Kuldeep, Jadeja, Axar and Chahal, while picking only three specialist fast bowlers in Bumrah, Siraj and Arshdeep Singh. Unlike the IPL, the wickets in the United States and the West Indies could be slow and could assist the spinners.

That could be why India went in for experience in their batting ahead of strike rates. Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya have secured one final chance to play for India in a World Cup and they will surely hope to finish on a high.

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HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com

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