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T20 World Cup: Will Hardik Pandya be picked? Rahul or Samson?

Source: PTI
April 25, 2024 17:03 IST
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IMAGE: Mumbai Indians captain Hardik Pandya has managed 151 runs in eight games in IPL 2024 at a strike-rate of 142. Photograph: BCCI

K L Rahul is believed to be slightly ahead of Sanju Samson in the race for second wicketkeeper's slot even as Mumbai Indians skipper Hardik Pandya's indifferent batting form remains a worry for the national selection panel which is expected to announce the 15-member squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup by the end of this month.

The other bone of contention in drafting the final squad could be the choice of an extra bowler.

It remains to be seen whether an extra pace bowler in Avesh Khan will be accommodated or whether the choice would be between Lucknow Super Giants leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi and Delhi Capitals all-rounder Axar Patel considering the low and slow tracks in the West Indies.

It is understood that skipper Rohit Sharma is likely to have a meeting with chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar to discuss the outline of the team.


With the ICC setting a May 1 deadline for the announcement of 15-member squads, the BCCI is expected to reveal the names anytime between the end of this week or the beginning of next week.

Pandya has so far bowled 17 overs out of a possible 32 in eight games for MI.

As a designated finisher, he has hit only seven sixes in these games, which is below par by every measure. The free-flowing bat-swing is completely missing in 151 runs that he has scored in eight games in IPL 2024 at a strike-rate of 142.

However, Pandya could end up getting the nod as CSK's Shivam Dube, who is also expected to board the New York bound flight, isn't bowling either.

Also in terms of skill and pace, Dube the bowler isn't anywhere close to Pandya but his current batting form (22 sixes in eight games) can't be ignored either.

IMAGE: K L Rahul might pip Sanju Samson for the second wicketkeeper's slot. Photograph: BCCI

It can be safely concluded that Rishabh Pant, who is now third among the top run-getters in the competition with 342 at a strike rate of 161, has sealed his place as the team's No. 1 wicketkeeper-batter and also as a designated finisher.

The fight is pretty intense for the second keeper's slot and despite Rahul (302 at strike rate of 141) not batting in the middle-order, his range of strokes might just help him pip Samson (314 at a strike rate of 152).

Samson might again have to be content with being a stand-by inclusion like last year's 50 over World Cup.

The five bowlers, who have all but sealed their places are Jasprit Bumrah, Arshdeep Singh, Mohammed Siraj, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav.

However save Bumrah and Kuldeep, the other Indian bowlers haven't been in great form during IPL and hence the choice of an extra bowler becomes very important.

IMAGE: Avesh Khan has impressed with his death bowling, taking eight wickets from as many matches at an economy rate of 9.41 in IPL 2024. Photograph: BCCI

It will be a three-way fight between Rajasthan Royals' pacer Avesh, Delhi Capitals left-arm spin bowling all-rounder Axar and Lucknow Super Giants leg-spinner Bishnoi.

Avesh, who has improved a lot as far as his death bowling is concerned, has eight wickets from as many matches at an economy rate of 9.41 while Bishnoi has only taken five wickets but on flat tracks, his economy of 8.47 can be considered impressive.

Axar, who has seven scalps from nine games but is bowling at an rate of just above 7, would be a brilliant choice too taking the conditions into consideration.

Add to it, his batting prowess, scoring runs at a strike of 132, and also the fact that he is a very good all-round fielder.

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