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T20 WC: Rinku’s Absence, Kohli’s SR – 10 Learnings From Rohit & Agarkar’s PC

T20 World Cup: From Rinku Singh's absence to Virat Kohli's SR, Rohit Sharma & Ajit Agarkar explained various aspects

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Since the Indian squad for the 2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup was announced on 30 April, there have been a lot of questions on multifarious topics. To address some of those, captain Rohit Sharma and chairman of the Senior Men’s Selection Committee, Ajit Agarkar, addressed the media at the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) headquarters in Mumbai, on Thursday (2 May).

Here are ten things we learned from the press conference:

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1. Why Was Rinku Singh Not Selected?

T20 World Cup: From Rinku Singh's absence to Virat Kohli's SR, Rohit Sharma & Ajit Agarkar explained various aspects

T20 World Cup 2024: Ajit Agarkar explained why Rinku Singh was not selected.

(Photo: BCCI)

Among the major surprises in the squad was the absence of Rinku Singh – the left-handed batter who has been a revelation for India since his debut in August 2023. In 15 T20Is, Rinku has scored 356 runs at an average of 89 and a strike rate of 176.23.

On being asked about his omission from the squad, Agarkar explained that it was a difficult decision which did not have anything to do with Rinku, who is not at fault for missing out, but the combination which the team management preferred had no provision for an additional batter.

It is (not selecting Rinku Singh) probably the toughest thing we have had to discuss. He has done nothing wrong, not even Shubman Gill for that matter. It is about combinations. We included a couple of wrist spinners to give Rohit more options. It is unfortunate that Rinku has missed out. He is in the reserves, so that tells you how close he came to being in the squad. But at the end of the day, you can only pick 15 players in the squad.
Ajit Agarkar
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2. Virat Kohli’s Strike Rate Is Not Concerning

T20 World Cup: From Rinku Singh's absence to Virat Kohli's SR, Rohit Sharma & Ajit Agarkar explained various aspects

T20 World Cup 2024: Virat Kohli's strike rate is not a cause of concern for India.

(Photo: BCCI)

Although Virat Kohli is currently the second-highest run-scorer at the 2024 Indian Premier League (IPL), there have been some discussions about his strike rate, which is currently 147.49. 

The Indian team, however, is not concerned about the former skipper’s strike rate, as evident by Rohit Sharma’s sarcastic laugh on being asked the question. Answering the query, Agarkar stated:

We have not been discussing about Virat Kohli’s strike rate. He has been doing great in the IPL, fortunately. So, no concerns there at all.
Ajit Agarkar
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3. India Has Faith in ‘Irreplaceable’ Hardik Pandya

T20 World Cup: From Rinku Singh's absence to Virat Kohli's SR, Rohit Sharma & Ajit Agarkar explained various aspects

T20 World Cup 2024: Owing to his skillsets, India consider Hardik Pandya irreplaceable.

(Photo: BCCI)

Albeit Hardik Pandya led the Indian team for much of the T20I expeditions last year, with the veterans being busy in 50-over assignments, a section of fans expected him not to be assigned the role of Rohit Sharma’s deputy considering his lukewarm form in IPL. In ten matches, the Mumbai Indians skipper has only scored 197 runs and has scalped six wickets.

Agarkar, however, made it clear that there was never any discussion about who will be India’s vice-captain, whilst speaking about Pandya’s form, he stated that the selectors were more concerned about his fitness and are content with what they have seen so far, with the all-rounder playing all of Mumbai’s matches without any troubles.

There were no discussions regarding vice-captaincy. About his form, you want all of your guys to be in good form. He has come after a longish layoff. The good part that we have looked at is that he has got through all the games for Mumbai Indians. We have another month and a little bit till we play our first game. Our hope is that he keeps building on his form. As long as he stays fit, we know what he brings, how much balance he gives the team. I don’t think there is a replacement for what Hardik can do as a cricketer, especially the way he bowls. He will give Rohit options to play different combinations. His fitness is critical for us, and so far, fortunately, he has gone okay in this IPL.
Ajit Agarkar
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4. Why Shivam Dube Is an X-Factor

T20 World Cup: From Rinku Singh's absence to Virat Kohli's SR, Rohit Sharma & Ajit Agarkar explained various aspects

T20 World Cup 2024: Rohit Sharma explained why Shivam Dube could be India's X-Factor.

(Photo: BCCI)

Barring Pandya, India have selected another seam-bowling all-rounder in Shivam Dube, who has been in excellent form at the IPL. In ten matches for Chennai Super Kings, Dube has scored 350 runs at a strike rate of 171.56.

Speaking on the all-rounder’s inclusion, captain Sharma mentioned that he wanted a batter who could attack the opposition in the middle-overs, irrespective of who the bowler is. Despite having not bowled much, rolling his arm for only a solitary over in IPL 2024, Sharma has faith in Dube’s bowling abilities.

We wanted someone who could play freely in the middle-overs, without worrying about who is bowling and who is not. We picked Shivam Dube based on what he has done in the IPL, and in a few games before the IPL also. Unfortunately, Shivam has not bowled in IPL, but he is a seasoned cricketer who bowls a lot of overs in red-ball cricket. So, he knows how to bowl. It is just that when he is playing the T20 format, a little bit of skills come into the picture.
Rohit Sharma
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5. The Reason Why KL Rahul Missed Out

T20 World Cup: From Rinku Singh's absence to Virat Kohli's SR, Rohit Sharma & Ajit Agarkar explained various aspects

T20 World Cup 2024: KL Rahul was not considered owing to his batting position.

(Photo: BCCI)

Questions were raised about the exclusion of KL Rahul from the squad, considering his vast experience – having played 72 T20Is for India – and also the fact that he is currently the leading run-scorer among Indian wicketkeepers at the IPL this season.

In his explanation, Agarkar mentioned that Rahul missed out owing to his batting position. The wicketkeeper-batter has been playing as an opener for his team, Lucknow Super Giants, whilst the two keepers they picked – Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson – can be utilised as middle-order batters.

KL is a terrific batter, we all know that. But we were looking at guys who are batting in the middle, while KL is batting at the top at the moment. Sanju is not opening the innings, we feel he has the ability to come down the order if need be. Rishabh is batting at number 5 for Delhi. That was more the thinking, it was not about whether KL is better or these guys (Rishabh Pant & Sanju Samson) are better. We felt that these two are better equipped at this point and have spent more time at the latter part of the innings, which might be needed at the World Cup.
Ajit Agarkar
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6. Rohit Sharma Unfazed After Losing Mumbai Indians’ Captaincy

T20 World Cup: From Rinku Singh's absence to Virat Kohli's SR, Rohit Sharma & Ajit Agarkar explained various aspects

T20 World Cup 2024: Rohit Sharma was not fazed by losing Mumbai Indians' captaincy.

(Photo: BCCI)

Having led the team with distinction at the 2023 ODI World Cup, Rohit Sharma was informed he will not be the captain in IPL anymore, with Hardik Pandya being handed the baton of Mumbai Indians’ leadership.

Speaking about playing under someone else’s captaincy for the last month, Rohit clarified that he was unfazed, with his singular focus being on what he can do for the team as a player.

It is a part of life. Not everything will go your way. It has been a great experience. I have played under a lot of captains before in my life. So, this is nothing new to me. You go with it and do what is required as a player and that's what I have done for last month.
Rohit Sharma
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7. Never Any Doubt About Who Will Lead India

T20 World Cup: From Rinku Singh's absence to Virat Kohli's SR, Rohit Sharma & Ajit Agarkar explained various aspects

T20 World Cup 2024: There was never any doubt about who will lead the Indian team.

(Photo: BCCI)

Whilst Pandya is currently leading Mumbai Indians, Agarkar confirmed that there was never any doubt about who will lead the Indian team at the T20 World Cup, with the management having undisputed faith in Sharma’s leadership, especially after the ODI World Cup.

Generally, as selectors, you want a leader. Rohit has been a terrific leader. There are just six months between the ODI World Cup and the T20 World Cup. We have had to make decisions, there is no doubt about it. I know Hardik has led in a few series, but Rohit’s form in the World Cup was great. He is a great player.
Ajit Agarkar
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8. What Made India Select 4 Spinners?

T20 World Cup: From Rinku Singh's absence to Virat Kohli's SR, Rohit Sharma & Ajit Agarkar explained various aspects

T20 World Cup 2024: Rohit Sharma chose not to explain the reason behind selecting four spinners.

(Photo: BCCI)

Should we drift away from the personnel and look at the holistic team composition, India’s decision of picking four spinners in Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel is a deviation from what the other teams have opted for.

On being asked about the rationale behind the decision, Sharma stated that he would not be explaining his thought process at this point, but he did confirm that there was a ‘technical aspect’ involved in it.

I definitely wanted four spinners in the team. We have played a lot of cricket in the West Indies, we know about the conditions there. Matches will start at 10-10:30 in the morning. I don’t want to go into much detail because I am sure all the other teams’ captains will be listening to this, but I can tell you there was a technical aspect involved in the decision. Maybe in my first press conference over there, I will tell you the reason behind picking four spinners. But I won’t say it now.
Rohit Sharma
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9. About Not Having an Off-Spinner in the Team

T20 World Cup: From Rinku Singh's absence to Virat Kohli's SR, Rohit Sharma & Ajit Agarkar explained various aspects

T20 World Cup 2024: With Ashwin missing out, the team lacks an off-spinner.

With the majority of the teams having decent left-handed batters in their arsenal, not having an off-spinner could emerge as a cause of concern for the Indian team. 

On being asked about it, Sharma explained why Washington Sundar could not be considered owing to his lack of game-time, whilst in the battle between Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel, the latter was selected owing to his form.

We discussed about whether to have an off-spinner. Unfortunately, Washington Sundar has not played a lot of cricket lately, he hasn’t been getting an opportunity. It was then between Ashwin and Axar Patel. Ashwin has not played in this format lately, while Axar was in really good form, from the 50-over World Cup onwards. When he played that five-game series against Australia, he was Player of the Series. He has been bowling well, he has done well for India. He also gives us that left-handed batting option if we have to send someone in the middle to do something different. He is also a very experienced player.
Rohit Sharma
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10. India Values Experience

T20 World Cup: From Rinku Singh's absence to Virat Kohli's SR, Rohit Sharma & Ajit Agarkar explained various aspects

T20 World Cup 2024: The Indian team still values experience, explaining the selections of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.

(Photo: BCCI)

A minuscule section of the Indian fanbase questioned the selection of veterans like skipper Sharma and former skipper Kohli, considering they both are in their mid-to-late thirties. 

Agarkar, although, clarified that the team values experience.

You want some experience in your time. These guys have been around because they are good enough to be around. That is the reason why they have played in multiple World Cups. 
Ajit Agarkar

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