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Rohit tight-lipped on India's four-spinner plan for T20 World Cup

The India captain didn't explain why, but outlined it had to do with conditions and early morning starts

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
India's selectors picked four spinners in their 15-man squad for the 2024 T20 World Cup because Rohit Sharma wanted them, though he did not want to reveal his reasons for doing so just yet.
"I don't want to go too much into detail on it, I'm sure opposition captains are listening to this," Rohit said in Mumbai. "I definitely wanted four spinners. We've played a lot of cricket there [Caribbean]. We know what the conditions are like. With morning starts at 10-10.30am, there's a little bit of technical aspect involved in this."
India picked left-arm wristspinner Kuldeep Yadav, legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal and left-arm spin allrounders Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel in their provisional 15, which left space for only three specialist fast bowlers and no slot for Rinku Singh. Chahal was not a part of India's T20I squads for their two most recent series - in South Africa in December and against Afghanistan at home in January - and was selected after his impressive form in IPL 2024.
"Maybe when I do the first press conference [upon landing], I'll give more details," Rohit said about picking four spinners. "The reason for four spinners is this, which I'm not going to say in public. But I wanted four spinners for sure. With two of the spinners being allrounders who can bat, Axar and Jadeja, and two attacking spinners - Kuldeep and Chahal - it gives you the balance in the spin department. Based on the team composition of the opposition we can decide what we want to play with."

Dube selected for middle-order power

While Rohit wouldn't be drawn into discussing whether Virat Kohli could be his opening partner instead of Yashasvi Jaiswal, he emphasised the need for more power in the middle order, which led to Shivam Dube's selection.
"The one thing we really looked at was middle-overs hitting," Rohit said. "The top-order hitting has been alright, hasn't been bad, but there are options there as well. In the middle overs we wanted someone to come and play that role where he can play freely without worrying about who is bowling and who is not. We picked Shivam Dube based on the IPL and a few games before the IPL as well."
Dube has been in explosive form for Chennai Super Kings in IPL 2024, his 350 runs coming at a strike rate of 171.56, and he is third on the six-hitting charts this season. He was also the highest run-scorer in the T20I series against Afghanistan in January, with 124 runs in three innings at a strike rate of 158.97. Rohit also expected Dube to contribute with the ball, if needed, though he has bowled only one over in his first ten games in IPL 2024.
"I know Shivam has not bowled a single over, but he's a seasoned cricketer who bowls a lot of overs in red-ball cricket," Rohit said. "Honestly if we need Shivam to bowl a few overs, he will bowl a few overs. Hardik as well, he has been bowling regularly in the IPL. Whenever it's been required, he has come and bowled. Like Ajit [Agarkar] said, he's come and played all the games, fitness wise, there are no issues."

Why KL Rahul missed out

India's decision to pick Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson as the two wicketkeepers ahead of KL Rahul was to do with their ability to bat in the middle order.
"KL is a terrific player, we all know that" chairman of selectors Agarkar said. "The thing is we were looking at guys batting in the middle order, and at the moment KL is batting at the top."
When it was pointed out that Samson is batting at No. 3 for Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2024, Agarkar said: "We feel Sanju has the ability to come down the order, if need be, Rishabh has been batting at five-six. That was more the thinking, about the slots we needed. These two were better at this point. Guys who spend a bit more time in the later part of the innings at the World Cup, that was the thinking."
After suffering a severe car accident in December 2022, Pant made a successful comeback in IPL 2024, scoring 398 runs in his first 11 innings for Delhi Capitals at a strike rate of 158.56, and proving his wicket-keeping skills were back to their best. Samson has 385 runs in nine innings for Royals, at a strike rate of 161.08.

'Rinku's exclusion one of the toughest calls'

Rinku Singh's exclusion was the "toughest" decision India's selectors had to make while picking the squad.
"He [Rinku] has done nothing wrong, nor has Shubman Gill. It's just the combinations," Agarkar said. "We're not sure of the conditions we'll get [in USA] and we wanted to have enough [bowling] options.
"We had a couple of wristspinners to give Rohit more options, I don't think it's anything to do with Rinku. It's not his fault that he missed out, it's more the 15 we felt we needed, with two keepers who are both terrific batters, we will have an extra batter sitting out. We got to have another bowling option, but he's still one of the traveling substitutes. That's how close he was, but we can only take 15."
Rinku has played 15 T20Is for India, scoring 356 runs at a strike rate of 176.23. However, he's had a quiet IPL 2024: 123 runs off 82 balls in eight innings at a strike rate of 150.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo