3 Unfairly Treated Cricketers Who Have Been Sidelined by the Indian Selectors but Deserve More Chances
By Nitesh Mathur, Broken Cricket Dreams, 5/26/2022
India bowed out of the 2021 T20 World Cup without putting up a proper fight. A lot has changed since then.
Rohit Sharma is now the all-format Indian captain, Rahul Dravid the new coach after Ravi Shastri’s departure, and a new-look India’s T20 tour of South Africa squad is announced.
Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik, Avesh Khan, Ravi Bishnoi, comeback kid Dinesh Karthik, Deepak Hooda, Kuldeep Yadav, and Hardik Pandya all made deserving entries or returns to the T20 side.
IPL performances have been duly rewarded, selectors have displayed some positive thinking, but is the selection aggressive enough?
3 Indian Cricketers Who Deserve More Chances in T20I
Despite rests for Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and injuries to Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, and Suryakumar Yadav, three players could not find a spot in the 18-man squad. It is hard for anyone to break into the Indian team these days, but team India is making a huge mistake by not giving them a chance at all.
1. Prithvi Shaw
Eight years ago, Prithvi Shaw burst onto the scene by scoring 546 (330) in a school competition. Comparisons to Sachin Tendulkar were inevitable (and even Sehwag & Lara for that matter). He then won the U-19 WC as captain and has produced runs at the domestic circuit and IPL level.
Things looked bright, but he has only played 5 Tests (1 century, 2 50s), 6 ODIs, and a sole T20I (debut golden duck by the way).
History of fitness issues has not helped advance Shaw’s case, and he has often been depicted as ‘careless’ or ‘carefree’ in his batting approach. However, this is exactly the need of the hour for Indian cricket in T20Is.
Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Shreyas Iyer, Virat Kohli, Mayank Agarwal, and even Ishan Kishan play a similar brand of cricket as openers, but Shaw is a breath of fresh air. This season he has produced knocks of
38 (24) – 2 Sixes/4 Fours, 61 (34) – 2/9, 51 (29) – 7/2, 41 (20) – 7/1, 37 (27) – 1/5
And when he has not gone big, he has knocked singles and made sure the partnership with David Warner flourishes. Prithvi Shaw might not rack up the running charts and stay till the end, but what he provides is worth much more – an impetus to the team from Ball One of the match.
The real question is, will he even get an audition for the T20 WC squad?
IPL 2022: 10 matches, 283 runs, 152.97 SR, 37 fours, 10 sixes, 28.3 averageEmbed from Getty Images
2. Rahul Tripathi
Rahul Tripathi was always considered one of those key Indian uncapped players who ‘punches above his weight’ and ‘provides a bit of spark and energy in the field,’ but has always been seen a level below international quality (like a Swapnil Asnodkar, Manvinder Bisla, Nitish Rana, and now Rajat Patidar).
But has Rahul Tripathi been unfairly pigeonholed? He batted with flair this year at SRH (413 Runs, 3 50s, 158.24 SR) and was the catalyst behind KKR’s run to the final last year (397 runs, 2 50s, 140.28 SR). His highest score in each of the last 6 IPLs read
93, 80*, 50, 81, 74*, 76
This means that when he is in the mood, he goes big. But more than the stats, it is Tripathi’s infectious attitude while batting. He starts hitting from ball 1, can float anywhere in the batting lineup, and adapts to any situation. Fast bowlers, spinners, doesn’t matter. 120/2 or 0/1 – he comes in with the same aggression and mindset as a modern day #3 batter should.
Mitchell Marsh, Moeen Ali, Dawid Malan, Mohammad Hafeez, and Devon Conway are the template to bat at #3 these days. Gone are the days of Steve Smith and Virat Kohli steadying the pace.
Tripathi has done all in his power to showcase his ability, but will he ever get a chance?
It is now or maybe never for him.
IPL 2022: 14 matches, 413 runs, 158.23 SR, 40 fours, 20 sixes, 37.54 average
3. Sanju Samson
Sanju Samson has been the most ill-treated of them all. Samson has barely received any chances at the international level since his debut in 2015:
1 T20 Vs Zimbabwe (2015), 1 Vs SL (Jan 2020), 2 Vs NZ (Jan-Feb 2020), 3 Vs Aus (Dec 2020), 3 Vs SL (Jul 2021), 3 Vs SL (Feb 2022).
There is barely any continuity. In his last series in February, he did not bat in the first T20I and scored his personal best – a crucial 39 (25) with 2 fours & 3 sixes at #4. Yet, he has been dropped while the likes of Ishan Kishan & Venkatesh Iyer have been retained despite poor IPL form. What message are the selectors and coach sending?
In Qualifier 1 of IPL 2022, Samson gave an apt reply with the bat.
First ball he faced – SIX! What followed was carnage. His next scoring shots were 4,4,4,6,6. He scored 30 (13) before he even took a single. Now, that is T20 mentality!
That 47 (26) was a more impactful innings than Jos Buttler’s 89 (56).
Sanju Samson and the IPL Inconsistency Myth
He has been on the IPL scene since 2013 but has always carried the perception of ‘inconsistency’, ‘not enough domestic runs’, or ‘throws his wicket away.’
Let us dig a bit deeper. This may have been true from 2013-2016 (where his average hovered between 20.4-26.45 & SR between 112.35-125.15). In each of those years, he would make one or two sparkling fifties and then fall off.
However, from 2017-2022, he has scored 3 hundreds, 12 fifties, striking it between 136.72-150.36 and averaging between 30.07-40.33. Runs in these five years?
386, 441, 342, 375, 484, 421*
His numbers might not be KL Rahul-esque (659, 593, 670, 626, 616) whose SR hovers around 135. Rahul plays an opener/anchor role, while Samson is the middle order intent batter who can keep the game moving and hit spinners out of the attack.
In essence, Sanju Samson has become more consistent, more lethal, and a true match winner.
IPL 2022: 15* matches, 421 runs, 150.35 SR, 40 fours, 24 sixes, 30.07 averageEmbed from Getty Images
Why India Need to Select At Least One of Them?
Prithvi Shaw, Rahul Tripathi, and Sanju Samson, literally the only three Indian batters with a modern day T20 batting mindset, were omitted from the South Africa squad list. Although India has about 24 T20Is to try out new players before the 2022 T20 World Cup later this year, their exclusion reveals India’s reluctance to play ultra-aggressive cricket.
Among Indian players, only Dinesh Karthik (187. 28), Rajat Patidar (156.25), Shivam Dube (156.21), Rishabh Pant (151.78) have comparable Strike Rates. Samson, Tripathi, and Shaw have taken the leap of faith with risk & reward. The real question is, will Indian selectors?
Samson’s own words summarizes the Shaw-Tripathi-Samson Paradox beautifully. At Breakfast with Champions, he stated that
“When you’re doing a role like this. In T20s, when you are there to hit sixes…you need to have guts inside yourself, you need to be brave enough to do that role…failures will happen…If I get to play, I play. If I don’t, I don’t.”
“I am not here to score lots and lots of runs…I am here to score a small amount of runs which are very effective for the team.”
India Need to Revive the Memories of 2007
India last won a T20 World Cup way back in 2007. It was the inaugural edition, nobody knew what this beast T20 cricket would come, and the IPL had yet to be announced.
Stalwarts Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, and Sourav Ganguly stepped aside to give youngsters a chance. Robin Uthappa, Rohit Sharma, Piyush Chawla, Sreesanth, Joginder Sharma, RP Singh, and even the timeless Dinesh Karthik would make the squad. The Pathan brothers, Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh, and Virender Sehwag were the ‘seniors’ in the side lead under a certain captain MS Dhoni.
And guess what happened? India won—a young team with nothing to lose who just went out there, took risks, and expressed themselves.
Fast forward 15 years and 6 T20 World Cups later, India has yet to win another trophy. What’s worse? They have not even played close to their potential (Virat Kohli dragged into the finals and semi-finals of the 2014 & 2016 editions).
It might be time for a couple of seniors to step aside and give a free reign to players who can go there and play their natural, free-flowing, expressive cricket.
© Copyright @Nitesh Mathur and Broken Cricket Dreams, 2021. Originally published on 05/26/2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Broken Cricket Dreams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content (i.e. linked to the exact post/article).
Photo Courtesy: IPLT20.com Indian Premier League Official Website (iplt20.com)