T20 World Cup Probables: Who’s in, who’s out?

Virat Kohli has been a topic of debate for T20 World Cup (Photo: BCCI)

The national selectors are set to announce the 15-member squad for the T20 World Cup — in the USA and West Indies — by the end of April. The deadline for squad submission is May 1. The teams can make changes until May 25, before the tournament commences on June 1.

The selectors are closely watching the Indian Premier League (IPL). Despite social media chatter around Rohit Sharma’s form, the BCCI secretary has already confirmed that he will be leading the team. The focus now shifts to identifying the remaining 14, which is certain to spark debates online.

Rohit’s IPL displays (43 off 29, 26 off 12, 0 off 1, 49 off 27) may not inspire awe but he remains relevant. Choosing his opening partner is hard work. Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill are in the mix. Jaiswal’s IPL form has been underwhelming (24, 5, 10, 0), but there is time before the selectors get down to business. Gill started the IPL with 31, 8, 26 before hitting an unbeaten 89 off 48 deliveries. He is a prime contender also because of his T20I record of 335 runs in 14 innings at a strike rate of 147.57.

Then there is Virat Kohli. His IPL stats — 316 runs in 5 matches at 105.33 and strike rate of 146.30 — are silencing doubters. Ability to perform under pressure makes him invaluable. Many on social media pointed out that during the century against Rajasthan Royals, he played 10 dot balls in the powerplay. Some even pointed out it was the joint-slowest century in IPL history. They have not said that in death overs, Kohli’s numbers are staggering. In 99 T20 matches, from overs 15-20, he has hit 1,947 runs at a strike rate of 179.40.

But where does Kohli bat? Does he open like IPL or come in at No. 3? This will be an intriguing subplot.

The Indian cricket team in action vs Afghanistan (Photo: BCCI)

Wicketkeeper is another major area of focus. Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson are in contention, with the former hitting back-to-back half-centuries in the IPL. Jitesh Sharma was the first-choice before the IPL, but he hasn’t quite flourished despite having chances. Dhruv Jurel hasn’t got opportunities to bat or bat long so far, with a couple of 20s and a two to show for. That he isn’t keeping is going against his favour. Ishan Kishan is another option, but India don’t need another opener. Unless there is any drastic improvement in form and fitness, KL Rahul looks unlikely at the moment.

In the middle-order, Suryakumar Yadav picks himself, although he must get runs under his belt following a two-ball duck in his comeback match. Rinku Singh, in form for India and Kolkata Knight Riders, looks a certainty.

Shivam Dube is also in the picture. He can be lethal against spinners in the slowish conditions in the West Indies. Player of the Series against Afghanistan with 124 runs in three matches at a strike rate of 161, Dube is a transformed player since joining Chennai Super Kings. He has made a breezy start in 2024 as well, with 148 runs in four matches at a strike rate of 160.87. It will be tough to overlook him. However, it will be interesting to see how the selectors evaluate his bowling.

In the spin department, Kuldeep Yadav’s recent performances make him a likely pick. Ravindra Jadeja is another. The battle for the third spinner’s slot is between Ravi Bishnoi and Axar Patel, with the former’s record for India — 18 wickets in 11 matches in 2023 and economy rate of 7.20 — giving him an edge.

In the pace department, Jasprit Bumrah picks himself. With Hardik Pandya expected to be another pacer, Mayank Yadav could come in as an X-factor. Ability to clock 150 kph, hurry batters, take wickets and being economical makes him a top contender. However, it remains to be seen whether his side strain, suffered against Gujarat Titans, keeps him out for long or not. Arshdeep Singh has been effective in the shortest format. He bowls at the death and still has an economy of 8.64 in 44 T20Is. However, he has had a leaky start to the IPL. He is likely to get the nod, but will he start?

Likely 15:

Rohit Sharma (C)

Virat Kohli

Shubman Gill/Yashasvi Jaiswal 

Suryakumar Yadav

Rishabh Pant (WK)

Rinku Singh

Shivam Dube

Hardik Pandya

Ravindra Jadeja

Kuldeep Yadav

Jasprit Bumrah

Mayank Yadav

Arshdeep Singh

Jitesh Sharma/Sanju Samson (WK)

Axar Patel/ Ravi Bishnoi

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