Sanju Samson, KL Rahul, Ruturaj Gaikwad dropped from India's T20 World Cup squad picked by Irfan Pathan; no DK either | Crickit

Sanju Samson, KL Rahul, Ruturaj Gaikwad dropped from India's T20 World Cup squad picked by Irfan Pathan; no DK either

Apr 24, 2024 12:34 PM IST

Irfan Pathan has selected his 15 players that he feels should play for India at the T20 World Cup.

With 39 matches done and dusted, the IPL 2024 is approaching its business end, which means there isn't much time left for the players to impress the selectors and get on their radar. India's squad for the T20 World Cup is expected to be announced over the next 7 days or so, giving players a limited time span to grab the attention of the Ajit Agarkar-led BCCI selection panel. Which final 15 will represent India at the T20 World Cup starting June 1 in the USA and the West Indies has been a hot topic of debate. While some names are automatic picks, there is stiff fight for certain positions – such as wicketkeeping and the opening slots. However, after all the permutations and combinations are taken care of, the list of final 15 boarding the T20 World Cup flight will be revealed in due time.

Irfan Pathan had no place for Sanju Samson, KL Rahul or Ruturaj Gaikwad. (Getty Images)
Irfan Pathan had no place for Sanju Samson, KL Rahul or Ruturaj Gaikwad. (Getty Images)

Having said that, former all-rounder Irfan Pathan has finalised the squad he feels is the most ideal and suited to represent India at the global event. Pathan's picks were mostly on expected lines but included a couple of surprise omissions. Starting from the top, Pathan gave his stamp of approval to Yashasvi Jaiswal to be Rohit Sharma's partner, followed by Virat Kohli at No. 3 and Suryakumar Yadav at No. 4.

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But this is when things get interesting. Pathan gave his vote of confidence to Rishabh Pant as India's standalone wicketkeeper in the squad, leaving no place for either Saju Samson or KL Rahul. Samson has been in red-hot form for Rajasthan Royals in the ongoing 2024 Indian Premier League, having scored 314 runs at an average of 62.8 and a strike-rate reading 152.4. More importantly, under his captaincy, the Royals have been the team to beat this IPL. With seven wins from 8 matches, RR are leading the points-table and one victory away from becoming the first team to secure a playoff berth this season. If somehow, some way, the BCCI is aligned with Pathan's thought-process, this could mark India's fourth straight World Cup that Samson won't be part of.

Unlike Samson, Rahul played the last three World Cups for India. Last year, when the tournament was hosted by India at home, Rahul had donned the role of India's wicketkeeper throughout the tournament and had found his calling at No. 5. However, Rahul hasn't played much T20 cricket before the IPL and doesn't bag a place in Pathan's squad. Rahul, considered an IPL behemoth, has scored 302 runs from eight innings at an average of 37.75 including two half-centuries.

On to the openers, Pathan's Jaiswal pick closes the doors on Ruturaj Gaikwad, who hasn't exactly had the worst of IPLs. With 349 runs, Gaikwad in fact, is second on the IPL 2024 Orange Cap list, next only to Virat Kohli. If anything, his numbers are way better than Jaiswal, but the left-hander's aggressive and dynamic batting gives him preference over the CSK captain. Having said that, Pathan did not entirely rule Gaikwad out. Given the erratic nature of players' fitness, the former India all-rounder added that 'anything could happen'.

"A lot can happen. Injuries. Form. Someone can have such a bad dip in form that the bat goes silent. That can pave the way for Ruturaj. He will certainly be in the probables and someone you would think about too. But since there is a traffic jam, he cannot get a pass. That doesn't mean he won't get a chance in the future," Pathan said.

The Shubman Gill twist

As for Shubman Gill, while Pathan did not leave him out of the squad, he picked the Gujarat Titans captain as a back-up opener. With Gill as the second opener, Kohli at No. 3 is Pathan's safe bet, but he has kept the door open for Virat to be promoted at opener if the need arises for India to seek a finisher. "Kohli could be seen opening too because this season he has a strike-rate of 150. And as of now, he also holds the Orange Cap," Pathan mentioned.

Talking of finishers, Pathan gave his go-ahead to CSK all-rounder Shivam Dube as the third all-rounder in the team, along with Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja. Dube has enthralled one and all with his explosive batting. He has notched up 311 runs at an average of over 51 and a strike-rate touching 170. Against LSG, Dube completed 1000 runs in IPL and each half-century is leading to raging calls for his inclusion in India's T20 World Cup squad.

Pathan's two front-line spinners include Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, leaving no space for Axar Patel. Chahal was dropped from India's 2021 T20 World Cup squad, and although he was included in the 15 for the 2022 editions, the leg-spinner only warmed the benches. Chahal was also ignored from India's 2023 World Cup squad last year. No surprises in the fast-bowling department as Pathan chose Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Arshdeep as the three frontline pacers.

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