‘We were looking for players who bat in middle’: Agarkar on KL Rahul’s exclusion from India’s T20 WC squad

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MUMBAI: Indian team’s chief selector Ajit Agarkar on Thursday revealed the reason why Sanju Samson and Rishabh Pant were preferred over K L Rahul for India’s T20 World Cup squad, saying that the 32-year-old wicketkeeper-batter is a terrific player, but they were looking for middle-order options.

During a joint press conference with Rohit Sharma in Mumbai, Agarkar said the main reason behind Rahul’s exclusion was that they were looking for more options in the middle order and not the opening spots. He was responding to a query about K L Rahul not finding a place in the team.

Rahul, who is leading Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024, bats at the top order and has scored 406 runs in the 10 matches so far.

“K L Rahul is a terrific player, we all know that. We were looking for the guys who bat in the middle. At the moment K L bats at the top in IPL. Rishabh not opening the innings. Sanju has the ability to come down the order if needed. Rishabh is batting at no.5 in Delhi and this was the thinking behind backing Pant and Samson. It wasn’t whether KL was better or these guys were better. It’s about the slots that we needed”, Agarkar said.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Tuesday announced India’s 15-player squad with a couple of surprise exclusions. Opener Shubman Gill and star batter Rinku Singh did not find a spot in the main squad.

Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson along with Shivam Dube, on the back of strong performances in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL), punched the ticket for the marquee event which will begin in June. The event is being held in USA and the West Indies.

India are placed in Group A of the ICC tournament alongside arch-rivals Pakistan, Ireland, Canada and co-hosts USA.

India will begin their T20 World Cup campaign against Ireland on June 5 at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, New York, followed by the marquee clash against Pakistan on June 9 at the same venue. India will then play the USA and Canada on June 12 and 15 respectively.

India squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Hardik Pandya (vc), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd. Siraj
Reserves: Shubman Gill, Rinku Singh, Khaleel Ahmed and Avesh Khan. (ANI)

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