Hardik Pandya axed, replaced by Shivam Dube, Rinku Singh in India's T20 World Cup Playing XI selected by Virender Sehwag | Crickit

Hardik Pandya axed, replaced by Shivam Dube, Rinku Singh in India's T20 World Cup Playing XI selected by Virender Sehwag

Apr 24, 2024 05:30 PM IST

Virender Sehwag has picked a highly-debated Indian Playing XI for the T20 World Cup.

Who's in, who's not? Who gets the ticket to the USA, who faces the axe? Some of these burning questions are expected to be answered over the next week or so, when the BCCI selectors announce Team India's squad of 15 for the T20 World Cup 2024. Although no official date is fixed yet, the deadline for cricket boards to reveal the line-up is May 1. Hence, expect the squad that will travel to the USA and West Indies to be out soon.

Hardik Pandya out, Shivam Dube or Rinku Singh in: What do you make of this choice by Virender Sehwag? (Getty Images)
Hardik Pandya out, Shivam Dube or Rinku Singh in: What do you make of this choice by Virender Sehwag? (Getty Images)

Who all make it to the list finalised by captain Rohit Sharma, coach Rahul Dravid and BCCI chairman of selector Ajit Agarkar is a matter of hot debate. But irrespective of the 15 that will make the cut, picking the 11 from a talented pool of players promises to be a bigger headache for the team management. To help provide some perspective, former India opener Virender Sehwag has finalised his Playing XI, which shockingly has no place reserved for Hardik Pandya.

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When asked to name his India starting XI on the 'Club Prairie Fire' podcast, Sehwag, not necessarily order-wise, began by saying: "Yashasvi Jaiswal, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant" before taking a pause and naming one of Rinku Singh and Shivam Dube at No. 6. "Rinku Singh or Shivam Dube – one of these two – Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Sandeep Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja."

While Sehwag did not reveal the reason behind leaving Hardik out, he did point out that while the Mumbai Indians captain will certainly be part of the overall squad, seeing see him make it to the XI remains a brave call. "He [Hardik] should be in the 15, but if you're asking Playing XI, right?"

However, Sehwag's exclusion of Hardik is believable and makes for a solid case in point. Expected to be the apple of Mumbai Indians' eye on his return to the franchise, Hardik has had a torrid IPL 2024 campaign. Forget his results as captain – three wins from eight matches – Hardik has been nothing more than a pale shadow of his once formidable self. With 151 runs from eight innings, Hardik's batting has cut a sorry figure, while with the ball, he has just 4 wickets to show for his efforts at a concerning economy rate of 10.94. Hardik has opened the bowling in six out of the eight games played by MI and not once has it yielded the desired outcome.

Is it early to say that Hardik hasn't been the same player since his injury at the ODI World Cup? Possibly. But it won't be fair to judge his performance without taking into consideration the hostility he has faced from fans across the country. Forget the away crowd, Hardik has been jeered and booed by his very own Mumbai faithful at the Wankhede in the wake of MI offering him the captaincy from Rohit Sharma. But having said that, this isn't an excuse for a quality and international-level player like Hardik to conjure sub-par performances.

Shivam Dube's exponential rise

Meanwhile, Dube has enjoyed quite the upswing. With 311 runs from 8 games at an average of 51.83 and strike-rate of almost 170, the big-hitting all-rounder has suddenly entered the selection fray. He has played 21 T20Is for India and was part of India's gold medal-winning campaign at the Asian Games, and ahead of the T20 World Cup, Dube is hitting the correct notes, making the right noises and capturing the attention of the who's who of cricket. As for Rinku… Well, he may have been a bit off-colour in the ongoing IPL, but has done enough work lately for India to make him one of the automatic picks, such as Rohit, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah.

Moving on, Sehwag's selection of Sandeep can't be ignored either. The seamer from Punjab, who has dismissed Kohli seven times in IPL, made heads turn when he rocked MI's batting with an excellent 5/18 – the best bowling figures of this year's IPL. A veteran of 119 matches and 130 wickets, Sharma has been around in the IPL circuit since 2013. He even played a couple of T20Is for India but the selectors shut the door on him.

That India are going to be without Mohammed Shami will shoulder the bulk of their pace-bowling responsibilities on Bumrah and Siraj, but Sehwag feels adding an extra seamer as cushion won't harm on the sluggish wickets of the West Indies and the unknown surfaces in the USA. Bumrah, along with Yuzvendra Chahal and Harshal Patel is tied at 13 in IPL 2024's leading wicket-takers' list, and his selection is a no-brainer.

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