Analysing India’s T20 WC Squad – Samson Gets Justice, but Rinku Needs To Wait

Sanju Samson finally has got his due, although Rinku Singh is made to wait. We analyse India's T20 World Cup squad.

5 min read
Hindi Female

The biggest talking point during every edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is a social media campaign in support of one of the most popular players – Sanju Samson. Every year, Samson’s supporters get together to demand justice for him by way of selection in Indian white-ball squads.

Well, it looks like Samson’s massive popularity on social media has paid off finally with his selection for the first time ever in an Indian World Cup squad, albeit in the T20I format.

Samson has been nearly the man of Indian white-ball cricket for the past few years. He has missed out because of combination issues. and also because Indian cricket has been guilty of backing reputed names over performers, especially in the T20 format.

Selectors Break the Mould To Select Sanju Samson

Finally, the selectors, led by Ajit Agarkar, have broken the mould and gone with Samson as one of the two wicket-keepers. During the last two T20 World Cups, Samson was part of the ODI squads led by Shikhar Dhawan. COVID-19, cramped schedules and strict bio bubbles became convenient excuses to leave Samson out of the mix. But this time there was no such excuse.

Samson’s patience has finally paid off. He has been a consistent performer in the IPL and has led Rajasthan Royals with a lot of common sense. It has helped that he has a great squad at his disposal. 

However, Samson’s calm demeanor has meant that he has won a lot of hearts outside social media too. The fact that he has excellent striking ability will be of great value, especially if he comes into bat right after the powerplay. Thus far, Samson has been unlucky that his performances in international cricket have been patchy. He finally has a chance to set the record straight.

But whether Samson will start for India in the playing XI during the upcoming T20 World Cup remains to be seen. The remarkable return of Rishabh Pant from an accident queers the pitch for Samson. Pant’s presence provides a left-handed option in the middle-order which could break the jam. Samson, though, will keep Pant on his toes with his presence in the squad.


The Explanation Behind Rinku Singh’s Omission

While Samson has finally been delivered justice by the selectors, there is a fresh campaign for another player. Suddenly the next favourite player for everyone on social media appears to be the pocket-sized dynamo from Uttar Pradesh – Rinku Singh. Now, Rinku is a terrific striker of the ball, comes in late in the innings and has delivered in limited opportunities that he has got in international cricket. Unfortunately, despite his terrific strike rate, Rinku misses out and his place has gone to another left-hander, Shivam Dube.

By the looks of it, the only reason why Rinku has missed out on a spot on the squad is because Dube can bowl medium-pace. Rinku has thus far shown no pedigree as a bowler, and the selectors were probably cognisant of the fact that they do not have any batter who bowls in the top-order.

Skipper Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav and Yashasvi Jaiswal have all bowled in the past in their careers. But off late, they have stopped short of rolling their arm over. Jaiswal, however, did bowl last year during the series in West Indies. Sharma and Kohli bowled during the ODI World Cup last year, especially in the last league game against the Netherlands. It became a major event, as one can imagine.

Rinku has probably missed out just because he does not tick two boxes. Once the selectors had made up their minds or were asked to do so over Sharma and Kohli, there was no option but to look for multi-skilled players. Dube ticks the box by a fair distance. Recent trends suggest that Dube has not bowled for Chennai Super Kings, but he has been asked to do so in the nets. Sharma even used Dube as a bowling option against Afghanistan.


The Justification of Four All-Rounders

In fact, the present selection panel has learnt lessons from the last two T20 World Cups. Apart from Dube, they have picked three more all-rounders in Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja. It may so happen that three of the four may end up playing in the same XI, giving the skipper depth in both batting and bowling.

During the previous two T20 World Cups, India seemed to lack depth. With the top-order batters being stubborn about not bowling, the selectors and think-tank must think hard about manufacturing depth.

Pandya is also the vice-captain, but he does not seem to be in any kind of bowling or batting form. Jadeja, too, has struggled to get going with the bat. There is hope that both will strike form when it matters during the T20 World Cup.


The Curious Case of Yuzvendra Chahal

The selectors and team management have had to do a lot of rethinking on their carefully recalibrated T20 strategy in recent times. Yuzvendra Chahal was dropped for the 2021 T20 World Cup because Rahul Chahar bowled at good speeds. Then during the 2022 edition, Chahal travelled all the way to Australia to observe the games from the dressing room. Then it appeared as if Chahal had ceded his place to the much younger Ravi Bishnoi.

Now, Bishnoi is a quickish leg-spinner, fields well and holds his own with the bat. Chahal is a minus on the field and with the bat. It therefore seemed a given that the selectors will continue to back Bishnoi in the T20Is like in recent times. 

But once again, the selectors have been forced to select Chahal because of his bowling form during the ongoing IPL. This is probably the only selection that can be termed to be done with recency bias.

The other factor may be that Kuldeep Yadav has started showing a lot of character with the bat too, and that may make up for any potential need for runs from the lower order.


India’s Pace Arsenal

The pace bowlers pick themselves, though Mohammed Siraj can be considered a bit of a concern in the T20 format. During the last two T20 World Cups, Siraj was not considered because the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami were around. 

Now with the stalwarts not around, Siraj walks in though he may not be the preferred choice in the first XI. Arshdeep Singh has been rewarded for being consistent in his T20I appearances. Of course, there is absolutely no debate about the selection of Jasprit Bumrah.


About the Notable Absentees

The only thing that selectors stuck to was the non-selection of KL Rahul in the T20I format. During the previous two editions, Rahul became the villain of the piece in India’s disastrous campaigns because of his go-slow approach with the bat. Also missing out once again on a T20 World Cup is the next big thing in Indian batting, Shubman Gill. This is also an indication that his approach, too, may not be ideal for the T20 format. But when one of the big two exit the T20I stage, Gill could walk in.

But the last word has not yet been heard on the selection for the T20 World Cup. This is but a provisional squad with the Boards having the opportunity to make changes to the squad till 25 May. If the selectors so wish, they can name an alternate XV and make us revisit all our reactions, but that is highly unlikely.

But the last word has not yet been heard on the selection for the T20 World Cup. This is but a provisional squad with the Boards having the opportunity to make changes to the squad till 25 May. If the selectors so wish, they can name an alternate XV and make us revisit all our reactions, but that is highly unlikely.

That being said, India did make changes to their final XV before the last two T20 World Cups, so nothing is cast in stone.

But what is certainly cast in stone is that justice has finally been delivered to Samson. #Sanjugetsjustice!

The stage is however set for #JusticeforRinku to take centre stage in what promises to be a continuing saga in cricket squad selection in India.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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