Sanju Samson dropped, Rishabh Pant to be wicketkeeper in India's T20 World Cup Playing XI picked by Yuvraj Singh | Crickit
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Sanju Samson dropped, Rishabh Pant to be wicketkeeper in India's T20 World Cup Playing XI picked by Yuvraj Singh

May 22, 2024 04:54 PM IST

The toss-up between Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson promises to be an curious one and Yuvraj Singh has just made it that bit more interesting.

For the longest time, the competition between Sanju Samson and Rishabh Pant for the wicketkeeper slot in India's Playing XI was intense. Pant rose to superstardom thanks to his epic knocks across Australia, England, South Africa, and was earmarked as MS Dhoni's successor in all formats, while Samson paid the prize for inconsistency. But when Pant was out indefinitely due to a near-fatal car crash and was uncertain about recovering in time for the T20 World Cup, Samson was in with a chance. He scored a century for India in an ODI against South Africa in January and has enjoyed his best-ever IPL season, scoring 504 runs with the possibility of more.

An interest contest awaits between Rishabh Pant (L) and Sanju Samson(PTI)
An interest contest awaits between Rishabh Pant (L) and Sanju Samson(PTI)

Eventually, both got the nod and secured a place in India's 15-man squad. Despite scoring fewer runs and looking unsure in patches, the belief was that Pant would pip Samson and start as India's wicketkeeper in the T20 World Cup. But the raging-hot form displayed by the Rajasthan Royals captain has entirely changed the narrative. On current form, and depending on where RR finishes in the IPL 2024, Samson can hold the edge over Pant, who scored 446 runs for Delhi Capitals this season at an average of 40.5 and strike rate of 155.4. However, Yuvraj Singh doesn't think so. The former India all-rounder reckons India can really do with a left-hander in the middle order and hence, gives his vote of confidence to Pant.

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"I would probably go for Rishabh. Obviously, Sanju is also in great form, but Rishabh (is a) left-hander, and I believe that Rishabh has massive potential to win games for India, which he has done in the past. Lot more in Test cricket, and he's someone who I feel can be a match-winner on the big stage," Yuvraj said while speaking to ICC.

No need to tamper with Rohit Sharma-Yashasvi Jaiswal

Another left-handed Yuvraj has shown faith in is Yashasvi Jaiswal. The 22-year-old, coming off a record-breaking Test series for India against England at home, has yet to fire in the IPL 2024 for RR. And with Virat Kohli showing unstoppable form opening the innings for Royal Challengers Bengaluru, Jaiswal's position as opener could be under threat. Yuvraj, though, doesn't want it tampered with and suggests Jaiswal is best suited to open alongside captain Rohit Sharma, followed by Kohli at 3.

"I think Rohit (Sharma) and (Yashasvi) Jaiswal should definitely open. Virat (Kohli) has been batting at No.3 and that's his position. And then, you get Surya (Yadav) at four, and then you got a couple of big options. I'd like to see a couple of left-hand, right-hand combinations because it is harder to bowl at two combinations all the time," added Yuvraj.

Lastly, Yuvraj was glad to see Yuzvendra Chahal return to India's World Cup squad for the first time since 2019. Chahal was left out of the 15 in the 2021 T20 World Cup, and while he did get a berth for the following year's event in Australia, the leg-spinner failed to make it to the Playing XI. He was also not part of India's 2023 ODI World Cup squad but on the back of another fine IPL, picking up 17 wickets, Chahal has roared back into contention. Him, along with pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj, gives India a perfect balance in the bowling line-up, believes Yuvraj.

"It was nice to see Yuzvendra Chahal in the squad, because he's been bowling really well. And second half of the World Cup, you might have wickets slowing down so it's good to keep some bowling options in spin. We have Jasprit (Bumrah), (Mohammed) Siraj; we have the experience with Arshdeep (Singh) as well. So looks like a really strong side but we have to prove it," said the two-time World Cup winner for India.

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