Following the revealing of India’s ODI and T20I squads to play in Ireland and England next month as a blockbuster summer gets underway, here’s a look at some players who could consider themselves unlucky to not be picked.
MS Dhoni remains the preferred wicketkeeper-batsman for obvious reasons, and allied with a stunning spike of form for CSK in the IPL, there is no denying him his place. But keeping in mind that the next ICC World T20 is in 2020, this was a good time to give younger wicketkeeper a look-in. Pant, 20, has carried the beleaguered Delhi Daredevils all IPL season with his eye-catching batting to the tune of 393 runs from 10 innings at a strike-rate of 173.12, the highest for all batsmen to play a minimum of 200 deliveries. Among his electric scores are 85 off 48 balls, 79 off 45 and 69 off 29.
Though he is part of the India A squad that will play in England next month, Pandya has reason to feel disappointed. His name has been linked with India’s T20 squad since the Baroda allrounder delivered Man-of-the-Match performances in the last IPL season’s semi-final and final as Mumbai Indians surged to the title. This season, Krunal has scored 181 runs for MI at a strike-rate of 148.36 and taken nine wickets with an economy rate of 7.44 – the second-best of his franchise. Like with Pant, the BCCI selectors had the opportunity to test out Pandya with an eye on the 2020 World T20, but they have ignored him again.
Where does Rahane go from here? His place in India’s ODI squad has often been debated, with critics pointing to his strike-rate and inability to hit the long shots with ease and frequency, but the fact remains that Rahane has been in and out and not given a permanent spot. In the West Indies last summer, he was Man of the Series in India’s 3-1 series win after telling 335 runs in five innings at an average of 67.20 and strike-rate of 77.06 – all while opening the innings.
Rahane then got one match against Sri Lanka, followed by scores of 5, 55, 70, 53 and 61 versus Australia. In South Africa, he began with 71 and then trailed off with 11, 8, 8 and 34 not out. All this amounts to a total of 725 runs in 16 innings at a strike-rate of 77.95. There were also comments by Virat Kohli that Rahane merited a long run at No 4 keeping in mind the 2019 World Cup and the English conditions. Now he has been axed from the ODI squad, with the selectors preferring KL Rahul for his IPL form.
The talent has never been in doubt, the temperament has to an extent, despite Pandey putting in numerous clutch innings in knockout situations at the domestic level. The spark showing during a terrific maiden ODI century in Australia in early 2016 has faded, but Pandey did not fare badly in the eight games he played last year, scoring 171 runs at a strike-rate of 88.60 when batting in the middle order. From the No 6 spot, Pandey scored 50*, 36* and 33; batting at fourth position, he made 36, 0 and 3; and at No 5, his scores were 11* and 2. Hard done? You could say so, given that Pandey lost his ODI spot to a player in top IPL form – Ambati Rayudu.
The batsman who was the talk of Indian domestic cricket season after a record-setting 2017-18 domestic season still finds no takers. After a mountain of runs in the Ranji Trophy – 1160 at 105.45, with five centuries – as Karnataka reached the semi-finals, Agarwal switched seamlessly into T20 mode to score 258 runs at a strike-rate of 144.94 in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and then in the Vijay Hazare Trophy racked up a tournament record 732 runs at 90.37, which culminated with Karnataka lifting the domestic one-day title.
Perhaps his middling IPL form for Kings XI Punjab (118 runs at a strike-rate of 135.63) was what dissuaded the selectors from picking him in India’s ODI team.