T20 World Cup selection: Focus on Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill along with Ruturaj for opener’s slot

Rohit Sharma, Yashasvi Jaiswal, and Virat Kohli in IPL 2024
Rohit Sharma, Yashasvi Jaiswal, and Virat Kohli in IPL 2024 (PC: X)

The Indian squad for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup is set to be announced in the first week of May. The BCCI selection panel headed by Ajit Agarkar has a job on hand, particularly in choosing wicketkeeper-batters and openers. Since the last T20 World Cup, India has experimented with 16 players as openers due to player unavailability and injuries. With Rohit Sharma assured of his place as opener, three players are in contention, based on their form in the ongoing IPL and recent T20Is. It includes Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill and Ruturaj Gaikwad.

In the recent T20I series against Afghanistan, Rohit Sharma and Yashasvi Jaiswal were the opening pair for India. Despite his great form in the previous IPL season, Yashasvi Jaiswal has struggled so far in IPL 2024, scoring only 121 runs from seven games for Rajasthan Royals at a strike rate of 145.78. On Tuesday, against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens, the left hander could manage only 19 runs from nine balls.

If current form is the criterion for selection, both Shubman Gill and Ruturaj Gaikwad have a slight edge. However, Jaiswal’s advantage over the other two is being a southpaw. Shubman has scored 255 runs from six games this season at an impressive strike rate of 151.78, while Ruturaj has notched 224 runs from as many games at a strike rate of 130.23.

It is highly likely that Virat Kohli will bat at No. 3. The star batter currently holds the Orange Cap with 361 runs from seven games. Kohli has already scored a hundred and two fifties, maintaining a strike rate of 147.34. India captain Rohit Sharma is fourth in the list of run-scorers this IPL season. He has amassed 261 runs from six games at a staggering strike rate of 167.30.

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Let us look at the current IPL form of all the five contenders for the opening slot:

India's Openers in IPL 2024 so far
India’s Openers in IPL 2024 so far (PC: ESPNcricinfo/X)

Virat Kohli 7 games 361 runs 1(100) 2(50) SR 147.34 HS 113*
Rohit Sharma 6 games 261 runs 1(100) SR 167.30 HS 105*
Shubman Gill 6 games 255 runs 2(50) SR 151.78 HS 89*
Yashasvi Jaiswal 6 games 102 runs SR 137.83 HS 39 (* stats before facing KKR) 
Ruturaj Gaikwad 6 games 224 runs SR 130.23 HS 69

When it comes to T20Is, both Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have strike rates revolving around 140. Kohli has been criticised often for playing the anchor role in the shorter format. In terms of runs scored for India in T20Is Virat has amassed the maximum runs followed by Rohit. In 117 T20Is Kohli has notched 4037 runs. It includes one hundred and 37 fifties. Rohit has scored 3974 runs from 151 T20Is. The Hitman has smashed five hundreds in the shortest format for India, most by any along with 29 fifties.

Here is a look at the T20Is record for all the five contenders for opening slot:

India's Openers in T20Is
India’s Openers in T20Is (PC: ESPNcricinfo/X)

Virat Kohli – 117 matches 4037 runs 1(100) 37(50) SR 138.15
Rohit Sharma – 151 matches 3974 runs 5 (100) 29(50) SR 139.97
Shubman Gill – 14 matches 335 runs 1(100) and 1(50) SR 147.58
Yashasvi Jaiswal – 17 matches 502 runs 1(100) 4 (50) SR 161.93
Ruturaj Gaikwad – 19 matches 500 runs 1(100) 3(50) SR 140.05

India will go to the ICC T20 World as one of the favourites. The Men in Blue are yet to win an ICC tournament since the Champions Trophy in 2013. Rohit and his boys will kickstart their campaign against Ireland on June 5. They will next take on arch-rivals Pakistan on June 9 followed by matches against USA and Canada on June 12 and 15 respectively.

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