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India’s T20 WC Squad: No Fresh Faces Likely; Shivam Vs Rinku, Gill Vs Jaiswal Shootout Possible

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New Delhi, Apr 17 (PTI) The national selection committee is unlikely to blood any rookie IPL performer during the upcoming T20 World Cup in the Americas but a couple of tried-and-tested faces might have to brace up for disappointment when the squad is finalised by the end of this month.

With the ICC making it mandatory to announce the provisional 15-member squad by May 1 cut-off date, Ajit Agarkar and his colleagues have some straightforward choices to make if every member of the team is fit.

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“There would not be any experimentation or left-field selections. All those who have played for India and have done well consistently in T20 Internationals and the IPL will be rewarded,” a BCCI source told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

It is understood that one among Shubman Gill and Yashasvi Jaiswal might miss out but in case both proven performers are selected in the final 15, then only one among two finishers — Kolkata Knight Riders’ Rinku Singh and Chennai Super Kings’ Shivam Dube — will get the nod.
The other close call could be for the second wicketkeeper’s slot where Sanju Samson has competition from Jitesh Sharma, KL Rahul and Ishan Kishan.

Rahul and Kishan bat at the top of the order, and they haven’t tried batting in the middle order in this IPL  so far, which makes it difficult for the selectors to analyse their impact down the order.

Although Hardik Pandya’s bowling fitness remains a concern, there is no immediate doubt on his selection. Much like him, Virat Kohli’s inclusion is also a formality.
The other automatic selections are skipper Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar Yadav, pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja, Rishabh Pant, Arshdeep  Singh, Mohammed Siraj and Kuldeep Yadav. These 10 names, if fit, will definitely be on the flight across the Atlantic.

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It is understood that Siraj is being rested by RCB as he has been playing constantly and needed workload management.
In the choice between Gill and Jaiswal, the former has scored more runs but in case of Jaiswal, who has been a big find for Indian cricket, the selection committee might not give up easily on him merely for a few low IPL scores.

Also, being the only left-hander in inside the top four is a novelty and in a largely unidimensional top order.
However, if Gill piles up enough runs, it will be a difficult choice unless the selectors accommodate both and drop one among Shivam and Rinku from the 15.

The reserve spinner’s slot could also be a three-way battle between Axar Patel, a handy batter apart from being an accurate left-arm spinner, Yuzvendra Chahal, who is yet to play a single T20 World Cup match in his nine-year international career, and Ravi Bishnoi, who plays for Lucknow Super Giants.

While Chahal is head and shoulders above the other two in terms of bowling skills, his repeated omissions from important squads leaves a big question mark about his inclusion showpiece in June.

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A former international player, who is also a broadcaster, gave an interesting insight.
“The ‘Impact Player’ rule, which is basically a glorified ’12-a-side’ cricket contest has been good for IPL viewership but detrimental for Indian cricket. It has killed the concept of all-rounder and hence a half-fit Hardik Pandya also has premium value because he can bowl,” he stated.

“Think about it, if there was no Impact Player rule, could MS  Dhoni (not Ruturaj Gaikwad) as CSK ‘skipper’ afford to not bowl Dube? Selectors don’t know about Dube’s bowling form.
“Similarly, a guy like Rahul Tewatia is no longer in contention despite being a good finisher, who also used to be a handy leg-break bowler. He doesn’t bowl now as he is an ‘Impact Player’. Who is it hurting? The national team,” he pointed out.

The likes of Riyan Parag, Mayank Yadav, Abhishek Sharma, and Harshit Rana have all performed well but it is understood that the selection committee would like to follow the process of easing them in via bilateral cricket instead of putting them to test in a high-stakes World T20 game.

There are two white-ball series against Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka and these young men would be in line for their India debuts at that time. Nitish Reddy, who is a seam bowling all-rounder and was part of India Emerging side that toured Sri Lanka last year, could also follow the same path.

It will be interesting to see if BCCI makes arrangements for the likes of Mayank Yadav, Harshit Rana or Akash Madhwal to be taken as net bowlers, which will also give them good exposure.

The probable 20 (15+5 stand bys) in contention:

Specialist Batters (6): Rohit Sharma, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rinku Singh

All-Rounders (4): Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shivam Dube, Axar Patel.

Specialist Spinners (3): Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi.

Wicketkeeper-batter (3): Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul and Sanju Samson.

Pacers(4): Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Arshdeep Singh and Avesh Khan.

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