‘Rinku is the toughest thing we had to discuss’

Agarkar and Rohit addressed the media in Mumbai. (Source: X.com)

The first question at the press conference was on the wicketkeepers, the logic behind the selection of Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson, and the omission of KL Rahul.

“KL is a terrific cricketer, but we were looking for the players who would come in the middle,” said Ajit Agarkar, the chief selector. “Rishabh bats at No. 5. Sanju can come down the order.”

Rohit Sharma, the India captain, was asked about him getting T20I captaincy again. “See, it’s part of life,” he replied. “Not everything will go your way. I have played under a lot of captains. When I’m not the captain, I try to give my best for the team, whoever is the leader. It’s been like that over the last one month or so.”

Post-selection press conferences are a rarity these days. Thankfully, the BCCI understood the magnitude of the occasion and organised one at its headquarters in Mumbai on Thursday, two days after it announced the 15-member Indian squad for the T20 World Cup in the United States and the Caribbean.

The question on Rinku Singh’s exclusion came a little late, and Agarkar expressed his sympathy for the left-hand batter. “Rinku is the toughest thing we had to discuss,” said Agarkar. “There is absolutely nothing wrong that he, or Shubman Gill for that matter, has done. It’s just because of the combination they haven’t been in the 15. We just thought an extra bowling option would be handy.”

Rinku missed out despite boasting a T20I average of 89 and a strike-rate of 176-plus after 15 games. Agarkar admitted that he was “unfortunate”.

The chief selector clarified that Hardik Pandya’s IPL form was never a deterrent for him as regards to the Indian team’s vice-captaincy. “Not really,” said Agarkar. “His form is not a concern. We all know what he can bring to the table.”

Rohit, meanwhile, spoke about how the discussion about the squad for the T20 World Cup started much before the commencement of the IPL. “The talk of what our 15 is going to be like started much before the IPL,” he said. “In the IPL, things change every day.”

He also confirmed that he had wanted the extra spinner. “I definitely wanted four spinners,” he said. “I have played a lot of cricket there (in the Caribbean). We know what the conditions would be like. I’m not going to give a detailed answer (on this) at this point. All sorts of things in terms of combination are possible.”

Shivam Dube has been included to take care of middle-overs hitting. “Our top-order hitting is right. Middle-overs, we wanted a guy who can hit the ball without looking at who is bowling, ” said Rohit. 

The question about Virat Kohli’s strike-rate was inevitable, but Agarkar laughed it off. “I don’t think we have been discussing it,” he said. “He is in great form. Also, experience matters.”

The sign-off was a little tongue in cheek. Rohit was asked about Jasprit Bumrah’s fast-bowling partner. “June 5 is the match,” he quipped. “Abhi bolke kya karunga (what’s the point telling this now)?”