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Analysis

India's T20 World Cup squad: IPL form unlikely to heavily influence selection

Who will make the 15-man squad for the T20 World Cup? The deadline for selection is May 1

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
29-Apr-2024
Captain, coach and chief selection: Rohit Sharma, Rahul Dravid and Ajit Agarkar have a chat after the game, India vs England, 2nd Test, Visakhapatnam, 4th day, February 5, 2024

India will have pick their T20 World Cup squad by May 1  •  AFP via Getty Images

Don't expect IPL form to play too much of a role when India's selectors pick the 15-man squad for the 2024 T20 World Cup, the deadline for which is May 1.
The selectors are unlikely to go for players who are unproven at international level even though a few of them have made heads turn with their hitting in IPL 2024. The one bolter that might have been picked got injured. Much like consumers of the sport and pundits, the team management and selectors are believed to have been excited about Mayank Yadav's pace and accuracy. They would have likely punted on him, but his injury-prone body might have prevented that now.
The IPL, though, has served to prove the fitness of Rishabh Pant, who had been out of cricket since his horrific car accident in December 2022. Sanju Samson, however, is likely to be the first-choice wicketkeeper as India need a spin-hitter to pair with their top three who tend to get stuck against spin. Also, Jitesh Sharma's form hasn't been great and KL Rahul has been batting at the top of the order, which is crowded already. The top four of captain Rohit Sharma, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav was more or less decided even before the IPL began.
Hardik Pandya's bowling fitness could be a cause for concern for the selectors. When fully fit and in form, Hardik does what nobody else can in the country: bowl medium-pace and hit in the middle order. As such, he should be a certain starter, but he has been bowling only about two overs a match in the IPL and his pace has been down too. He still has a month to get into proper bowling rhythm and justify keeping Shivam Dube or Rinku Singh out of the XI.
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If India are to take both Dube and Rinku to the T20 World Cup, they will have to leave out either a back-up wicketkeeper or a back-up bowler. It will likely come down to a shootout between Rinku and a back-up fast bowler. It would have helped if one of the top four could bowl or keep wicket, but India are stuck with a top order that is one-dimensional.
The only way to accommodate the power-hitters is to drop one or two of the top four, but Rohit had already been confirmed as the captain by BCCI secretary Jay Shah earlier this year. Rohit, in turn, is believed to have asked for Kohli because of his temperament. Not that it would be an easy call for the selectors to take one and leave out the other: as we have maintained in these pages, it's either both or none. Jaiswal is the only left-hand option in the top order, and Suryakumar is among the best T20 batters in the world.
The IPL's Impact Player rule will add to the frustration of the selectors as prospective allrounders have not been called upon to bowl at all. For Dube to edge out Hardik, he ideally should have bowled a little, but CSK have not needed him to because of the Impact Player. The same goes for Riyan Parag at Rajasthan Royals. The IPL teams have no incentive to develop allrounders. So even if the selectors wanted to take Dube as a seam-bowling allrounder, they have nothing to assess his bowling.
As of now, Ravindra Jadeja might edge out Axar Patel as the spin allrounder in the first XI, but Axar could make the squad as the back-up spinner, leaving Kuldeep Yadav as the only wristspinner in the squad of 15.
Jasprit Bumrah's fast-bowling partners remain difficult to identify in the absence of the injured Mohammed Shami. Arshdeep Singh is likely to be the left-arm quick because of his ability to move the new ball, but his form at the death hasn't been great in the IPL. Avesh Khan is in the fray because of his height and ability to hit the surface and Mohammed Siraj is also in the mix even though his form has not been great for RCB.
The fast bowlers other than Bumrah are not yet in stone. Mohsin Khan and Harshit Rana have impressed the decision-makers, but their fitness is not believed to be at its peak, which can be a risk in a World Cup.

India's likely T20 World Cup squad

Top order: Rohit Sharma (capt), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav
Middle and lower-middle order: Sanju Samson (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shivam Dube, Rinku Singh
Spinners: Kuldeep Yadav
Fast bowlers: Jasprit Bumrah, Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan/Mohammed Siraj
Other contenders: KL Rahul, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi, Sandeep Sharma

Sidharth Monga is a senior writer at ESPNcricinfo