The national selectors on Wednesday decided to add Shardul Thakur to the 15-man Indian team for the T20 World Cup that gets underway in the UAE next week. Thakur’s inclusion comes at the expense of in-form left-arm spinner Axar Patel.
The move followed Hardik Pandya‘s inability to prove that he could bowl a full quota of overs during the World Cup. TOI had reported on Sunday that the selectors were unsure about Hardik’s availability as a bowler and hence considered getting a fast bowler in the first 15.
Thakur’s big-hitting ability with the bat won him a place in the main team ahead of Deepak Chahar who remains a standby along with Axar and Shreyas Iyer.
Hardik Pandya is unlikely to bowl in the upcoming T20 World Cup. (Photo by Surjeet Yadav/Getty Images)
‘It was down to choosing between Axar and Rahul’
Hardik has confirmed he is unlikely to bowl in the T20 World Cup. The selectors first went with a squad with a pacer short, believing he will bowl his quota of overs. “Now that he has backed out, a pacer has to be brought in,” a source close to the selectors told TOI.
The selectors were caught in a fix given the dearth of power-hitters who could finish an innings coming at No. 6 and No. 7. Ishan Kishan is largely seen as an opening option. That helped Hardik retain his place as a batter.
As for dropping Axar, who has clearly been the best spinner after Varun Chakravarthy in the IPL, it came down to maintaining variety in the squad.
Axar was largely seen as a backup for Ravindra Jadeja. Leg-spinner Rahul Chahar, who was benched by Mumbai Indians recently, retained his spot because he offered variety in the attack. Yuzvendra Chahal’s last hope of making it into the squad following a fine run of form in the second leg of the IPL went up in smoke.
“It was literally down to choosing between Axar and Rahul Chahar. Ashwin and Chakravarthy were picked because they are seen as impact bowlers. Axar, unfortunately, is a similar left-arm spinner as Jadeja,” the source added.
‘Lucky mascot’ Karn picked as net bowler
The selectors also added eight players as net bowlers. Avesh Khan, Umran Malik and Harshal Patel were the obvious choices. Venkatesh Iyer, Shahbaz Ahmed and K Gowtham too earned their spots. But leg-spinner Karn Sharma too has found a place as a net bowler.
He has been with Chennai Super Kings and barely played any IPL game in two years. His domestic performances have not set the stage on fire either. It is widely believed that Sharma is seen as a lucky mascot for teams – both state and IPL.