Dropping Rinku from T20 WC squad unfortunate: Agarkar

NEW DELHI: The notable exclusion of Rinku Singh, arguably India’s best finisher in T20Is from the 15-member T20 World Cup-bound squad has already sparked a debate, with fans and cricket experts criticising the Ajit Agarkar-led BCCI’s selection committee’s decision.
On Thursday, Agarkar conceded that dropping Rinku was one of the toughest decisions but reasoned that the southpaw missed out due to the overall composition of the squad that the Indian management was vying for.
Rinku has so far played 15 T20Is for India and has an average of 89 and a strike-rate of over 176. He, however, will be part of the four travelling reserves for the T20 WC, along side Shubman Gill, Khaleel Ahmed and Avesh Khan.
“It’s just unfortunate. I don’t think it has anything to do with Rinku Singh. It’s not his fault that he has missed out. It’s more the 15 that we felt gives with two keepers who are already terrific batters. So we just thought having another bowling option would be handy. He is still one of the traveling subs. That’s how close he was. It’s a little bit tough on him. At the end of the day, you only pick 15,” said Agarkar.
“Like Rohit (Sharma) said, we don’t know much about the conditions yet. Tough on Rinku, but we can only pick 15 in the squad. But he is in the reserves, so that’s how close he was,” Agarkar said while adding that KL Rahul also missed out as he’s primarily a top-order batter and didn’t meet the team’s requirement of a middle-order hitter.
Meanwhile, Shivam Dube’s six-hitting ability and utility with both bat and ball tilted the scales in his favour, putting India’s emphasis on firepower in the middle order. The 30-year-old Dube, however, hasn’t bowled in the IPL so far, although he took two wickets after bowling seven overs across the three games against Afghanistan in January.
Skipper Rohit Sharma, who was also part of the presser, indicated that Dube’s bowling could be used if the requirement arises during the cricket spectacle, starting in the US and the West Indies on June 1.
“Expect them to do what they are in IPL. Shivam hasn’t bowled in IPL but he’s a seasoned cricketer who’s bowled a lot in red-ball. When he plays in t20, its about skills coming into the picture. Such players have chances of success. If we need Shivam to bowl few overs he will be. Same with Hardik as well; he has been bowled regularly in IPL. Like Ajit said, he’s played all games. Fitness wise no issues. We’ll be looking forward to contributions from these 4 guys and all of us as well,” said the India captain.
Rohit, who returned to the shortest format for the first time in more than a year during the Afghanistan series in January, and took back the reins of the side, said it makes no difference to him whether he leads the pack while adding that the management had idea over 70-80 per cent squad even before the start of IPL.
“I was captain, then not being captain and then again captain. It is a part of life. Not everything will go your way. It has been a great experience,” Rohit said.
Agarkar added that the decision to reappoint Rohit wasn’t a forced one. “You want to have a good leader. Hardik led a few series before but Rohit’s form in WC coupled with how much time we have. It’s not like it’s forced upon us,” the former India pacer said.
Tough to replace Pandya
Defending the selectors’ decision to appoint Hardik Pandya as vice-captain, amidst scrutiny over his recent performances, Agarkar said that the star all-rounder is a tough one to replace.
“There has been no talks about the vice captaincy – what Hardik brings as a cricketer, it’s tough to replace – he gives lots of options to the captain as well and he is just coming back after a long break,” he said.
No discussion on Kohli’s strike rate
Agarkar also presented a dead bat on the inevitable question regarding Virat Kohli’s strike rate in the shortest version, saying there are no concerns.
“I don’t think we have been discussing it (Kohli’s strike rate). He has been in great form, no concerns at all. You are still going to a World Cup, there is still gap there. That’s where experience does matter a lot. If the tournament turns out like the IPL. If 220 plays like 220, we have the skills. At the end of the day when you turn up for a WC the pressure is different,” he said.
Lack of off-spinners
Rohit said that the lack of off-spinners in the squad was discussed but with Axar Patel offering them a good all-round option, and the lack of game time for the likes of Washington Sundar and Ravichandran Ashwin made them took the call.
“Something that we discussed a lot. We discussed whether to have off spinner or not. Washy hasn’t played a lot of cricket. And it was between Ash and Axar… it was like that. Ashwin hasn’t played much lately,” he said.
“Axar was in good form from 50 overs format when he played those matches against Australia. So he’s been bowling well for India. It gives us that left handed option if we have to send someone in them middle. And of course, a very experienced player,” he added.

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