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What Ajit Agarkar-led BCCI selectors will be looking for in IPL 2024 for India’s T20 World Cup selection

IPL will not be just a competition between 10 teams, but will also be a hunting ground for the BCCI selection committee to pick a T20 World Cup-winning side

When India’s fixture for the T20 World Cup preparation was revealed, the tally of 11 T20I matches across three series – against Australia (5 at home), South Africa (3 away) and Afghanistan (3 at home), raised concerns if it was enough for the selectors to narrow down on the final 15 for the ICC event in June, especially when some of the veterans almost or entirely skipped the fixtures citing rest following the arduous ODI World Cup or staying fit for the long England Test series. India head coach Rahul Dravid later clarified saying, “We will have the IPL and everyone will be watching closely to see how some of those guys play and what are the slots we need to fill in the team.” More importantly, the T20 World Cup will reportedly begin just five days after the IPL final. Hence, the IPL will not be just a competition between 10 teams for the trophy, but will also be a hunting ground for the Ajit Agarkar-led BCCI selection committee to pick a champion side that could end India’s long-standing ICC trophy drought.

How IPL 2024 will shape India’s T20 World Cup squad

Who are the certainties?

The two players for whom BCCI should already start getting the visas ready are Jasprit Bumrah and Suryakumar Yadav. Then comes, of course, Rohit Sharma, who was confirmed as the captain for the tournament by BCCI secretary Jay Shah earlier last month. Add Yashasvi Jaiswal to the list as well, who has more or less confirmed his berth as Rohit’s opening partner. Then comes Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav. And, how can we forget Virat Kohli? So that sums up seven spots, leaving IPL to decide the remaining eight.

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Virat Kohli, sure?

Compared to Rohit, who lost his Mumbai Indians captaincy due to his poor returns with the bat over the last few years, Kohli has had far more consistent IPL seasons. In the last four seasons, he has scored 1851 runs, the fifth-highest among all batters. However, the argument against Kohli in T20s has always been his strike rate, especially against spinners and in middle overs

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Since IPL 2020, among 20 batters who faced a minimum of 500 deliveries in the middle overs (7-16), Kohli’s strike rate of 116.27 is the lowest. Adding to his woes, he takes almost two overs (10.6 balls) to score a boundary during this phase, which is almost double the deliveries taken by Sanju Samson (SR of 152.87; boundary rate of 5.3) and Suryakumar Yadav (SR of 150.59; boundary rate of 4.8), the two best middle-over batters during this period.

Kohli’s strike rate falls further during this batting phase when up against a spinner – 105.53, the lowest among 18 batters (minimum 300 deliveries), while hitting a boundary every 14.7 overs.

This is precisely what the Telegraph report had highlighted a few days back, saying that it could be a reason behind Kohli getting dropped from India’s World Cup team, which created quite a stir in world cricket. But there are certain aspects of cricket, that goes beyond numerical logic. There is more at stake for the selectors than merely picking the team, especially when it comes to ICC events.

The most competitive spot

And that is the position of wicketkeeper-batter. Jitesh Sharma, who has been elevated to the role of vice-captain in Punjab Kings for IPL 2024 season, played six of the 11 T20I matches for India since November 2023, where he impressed with his six-hitting talent and ability to finish off games as well. Ishan Kishan played three other matches, scoring two fifties with a strike rate (144.73) almost similar to that of Jitesh (148.43).

Delhi Capitals’ Rishabh Pant during a practice session ahead of the IPL 2024 cricket match between Delhi Capitals and Punjab Kings, in Visakhapatnam(PTI)

The other contenders for the spot include Sanju Samson and KL Rahul, provided he manages to readjust his game and feature as a middle-order batter for Lucknow Super Giants in IPL 2024. But perhaps, the cynosure in this battle will be Rishabh Pant, who is all set to return to the sport since that fatal accident in December 2022. There is also Dhruv Jurel, who made a stellar impression with his performance in the recent England Test series.

Hardik Pandya’s backup

Hardik Pandya will undoubtedly be the first-choice pace all-rounder for India, provided he remains fit through IPL 2024. But given his fate with injuries, India will need a back-up for him and the selectors here have only one option for that role – Shivam Dube. But the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) star will need to prove his worth with the ball this season.

Spin hitter and death-over pace slogger

If India do pick Rohit and Kohli in the squad and subsequently in the XI, the team will have vulnerability against spin. In fact, among the 42 batters who have faced more than 200 deliveries against the variety in the last four IPL seasons, Kohli’s strike rate of 108.2 is the second-lowest. Even the likes of Hardik and Rohit have struggled against spinners with strike rate of 124.78 and 126.83 respectively.

The selectors will hence have their eyes on Samson, whose strike rate of 155.09 is the third-best overall and best among Indian batters, followed by Dube (148.20). Jaiswal (144.62), Ruturaj Gaikwad (142.59) and Shubman Gill (139.75), also have an impressive number against spinners.

Shivam Dube and Rinku Singh celebrate their partnership during the 1st T20I against Afghanistan at Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali (ANI)

India will also need a good finisher, with Rinku Singh standing out in the race. Against pacers in the slog overs, the left-hander has scored at a strike rate of 202.30, the best by any Indian batter since IPL 2020 (minimum 150 balls). Also on the list is Dube, against, with a strike rate of 160. Hence, besides his all-round abilities, selectors could be thinking if Dube can be picked solely for his batting, provided his manages to emulate his IPL 2023 show this season.

Bumrah’s partners

With Mohammed Shami all but out of the race to make the T20 World Cup squad, selectors will be looking for not just one but at least two fast bowlers to accompany Bumrah in the pace line-up. Mohammed Siraj could be one, with Arshdeep Singh and Mukesh Kumar fighting for the third slot.


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