With the ICC announcing the schedule for the upcoming T20 Word Cup 2024, scheduled to begin in the USA and West Indies from June 1, selection boards across the world are discussing whom to include in the squads and whom to exclude.

Even for a team like India, the experts are discussing the permutations and combinations of players almost every single day.

As the debate over Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli‘s return to the T20I format is still going on, former India cricketer Suresh Raina was quick to point out the growing competition for one single slot, which is wicketkeeping.

Considering India has five options – KL Rahul, Sanju Samson, Jitesh Sharma, Ishan Kishan, and Rishabh Pant, the decision to pick two of them will be a tough job.

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Both Sanju Samson and Jitesh Sharma were picked for the role in the three-match contest against Afghanistan that begins from Thursday in Mohali, while KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan, and Rishabh Pant stand in the fray for the position.

But Raina opines Samson could be a better option citing the stunning century he scored against South Africa in the ODI series last month.

Also, Pant’s tragic car accident in December 2022 made Kishan his first choice. However, Samson and Jitesh were given the first preference ahead of Ishan.

Meanwhile, Pant is hopeful of a return in IPL 2024 for Delhi Capitals, however, there are doubts over his wicketkeeping abilities.

Speaking to Hindustan Times ahead of India’s opener against Afghanistan, Raina does not see any significant change in the current squad with the T20 World Cup in mind.

“I feel there will be tough competition for the wicketkeeping slot. Rishabh Pant will become fit, KL Rahul will return, Samson and Jitesh are already there, and Ishan Kishan is also there. That position will become very important,” HT quoted him as saying.

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He even backed Samson reckoning that he could emerge as an ‘X factor’ for India in the ICC event.

“You cannot write off Samson after the hundred he scored in the ODI match against South Africa. He is a fearless batter, a good wicketkeeper, and a captaincy material. He has always performed every time he is given an opportunity. Then there is Jitesh Sharma, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, and Ishan Kishan. There will be a big call. But I would prefer Samson because, in the middle overs, he plays excellent pick-up shots. I guess IPL will also play a crucial role in the selection process but the Afghanistan series would be a big opportunity for him. He could be the X-factor for India in the World Cup,” he said.

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Published: 11 Jan 2024, 05:47 PM IST

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