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Hardik's T20 WC ticket hinges on his IPL form: Sources

Hardik's T20 WC ticket hinges on his IPL form: Sources
Ahead of the much-awaited selection of the India squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup, there are ongoing discussions over star all-rounder Hardik Pandya's place in the squad of 15 on the basis of his current form in the Indian Premier League (IPL), according to sources from Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI).

Hardik is currently captaining MI in IPL 2024. The team finds itself at the bottom half of the table, with three wins and six losses at the ninth spot. Pandya has not been at the best form either, scoring just 197 runs in nine games at an average of 24.62 and a strike rate of over 151. His best score is 46. He has just bowled 19 overs in the tournament, taking four wickets at an average of 56.75 and an economy rate of 11.94.

There is a three-way fight for the wicketkeeper's slot among Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson and KL Rahul, with Pant and Rahul having an edge over the Rajasthan Royals skipper, said the sources.

Samson is doing really well as a captain and batter this season for RR, sitting at the sixth spot in the IPL 2024 run charts with 385 runs at an average of 77.00 and a strike rate of 161.08, with four half-centuries. His best score is 82*.

Rahul is the seventh-highest run-scorer this season, with 378 runs at an average of 42.00 and four half-centuries, though his strike rate of around 144 is quite low as compared to other compatriots. Pant is the sixth-highest run-getter with 371 runs in 10 matches at an average of 46.37 and a strike rate of 160.60, with three fifties. His best score is 88*.

On the other hand, Pant is the fourth-highest run-getter, with 398 runs at an average of 44.22, with a strike rate of 158.56 and three half-centuries. His best score is 88*.

Also, the sources said that this tournament could likely mark the final international level outing for veterans, skipper Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli in the T20I format.

Both Rohit and Virat returned to the T20I set-up in January this year against Afghanistan in January. Before that, their previous outing was the 10-wicket loss to England in the semifinals of the 2022 T20 WC in Australia. After this crushing loss, Team India tried youngsters like Ruturaj Gaikwad, Tilak Varma, Rahul Tripathi, Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal etc in the shorter format at the top of the order.

They are two of India's most accomplished T20I batters. Virat is the highest run-getter in T20I cricket. In 117 matches, he has scored 4,037 runs at an average of 51.75 and a strike rate of over 138, with a century and 37 fifties in 109 innings. His best score is 122*.

Rohit is the second-highest run-scorer in the format, scoring 3,974 runs at an average of over 31 and a strike rate of almost 140. His best score is 121*. He has five centuries and 29 fifties in the format.

With both of these players in the team, some young and promising stars could find themselves in reserves rather than playing eleven.

Also, it is unlikely that star batter Shubman Gill will feature in the playing eleven. His IPL 2024 form has not been at its best, with him getting 320 runs in 10 matches at an average of 35.55 with two half-centuries. He does have 335 runs along with a century and fifty in 14 T20I matches, but he has also scored nine one-digit scores.

There is also discussions on finisher and middle-order batter Rinku Singh. As per sources, everyone is in favour of his inclusion but with Virat around, his place in the team is not secured.

He has scored 123 runs in nine matches in this IPL at an average of 20.50 and a strike rate of 150. His best score is 26. For India, he has scored 356 runs in 11 innings at an average of 89.00 and a strike rate of 176.23, with two half-centuries and best score of 68*.

Also, spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who has taken 13 wickets so far in IPL 2024 and is a veteran spinner for India as well, has received less support for inclusion as compared to Axar Patel, who gets the advantage due to his all-round abilities, as per sources.

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