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Why 2024 IPL is vital to T20 World Cup in June

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With the

T20 World Cup

in the West Indies and USA a couple of months away, the 2024 Indian Premier League becomes doubly important as some aspects related to the Indian team’s final makeup need to be ironed out. TOI gives you a lowdown to what one can expect from the upcoming edition of the IPL.
1) Performance of the old guard

Earlier this year, BCCI secretary Jay Shah announced that India will be led by

Rohit Sharma

in the T20 World Cup, ending months of speculation whether the mantle of leadership will lie on Rohit or

Hardik Pandya

.

Since the last T20 World Cup in Australia, Rohit has played only 3 T20Is against Afghanistan. The first two of which he was dismissed for duck. In the final T20I in Bengaluru, Rohit hit an unbeaten 121 to shut his critics up. Rohit had a below-par T20 World Cup in 2022, scoring just 116 runs in 6 innings. His form and approach to batting in the upcoming IPL will be quite interesting.

Like Rohit,

Virat Kohli

has played minimal T20Is since the semifinal versus England in 2022. In fact, only two against Afghanistan. His returns in those two games were 29 (in Indore) and 0 (in Bangalore). There have been murmurs whether Kohli will be accommodated in that plane to West Indies and USA, and his critics have often questioned his ability to bat like a modern-age T20 batsman. His moderate strike-rate is repeatedly talked about. Selectors as well as fans would like to see whether Kohli brandishes a new avatar in 2024 IPL, or it’s the same old.

2) The wicket-keeping conundrum
At present, if the last couple of T20I series can be considered as an indicator, Jitesh Sharma is India’s preferred first-choice T20 wicketkeeper. The Vidarbha and Punjab Kings player has leapfrogged ahead of the likes of Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson due to varying reasons. Performance or lack of it and also disciplinary grounds. But the 2024 IPL will mark the return of the talismanic

Rishabh Pant

. If he shows the semblance of form he showed before his horrific accident in December 2022, Pant will walk into the Indian team. KL Rahul is another candidate. To bolster his case, Rahul will bat in the middle-order and keep this year for Lucknow Super Giants. Not to count out Dhruv Jurel, who impressed one and all during the Test series against England. But will he get to play in the first XI for Rajasthan Royals, that’s the big question.

Pant-Jitesh-Rahul-Jurel-Sam

(From left, Rishabh Pant, Jitesh Sharma, KL Rahul, Dhruv Jurel and Sanju Samson – Agency photos)
3) The spinners in fray
Kuldeep Yadav has more or less cemented his place as India’s premier white-ball spinner. In fact, he has been performing in all formats. But his last IPL season was quite average. Kuldeep picked 10 wickets in 14 games. He will surely like to give a good account of himself in the 2024 IPL. Among other spinners, Ravindra Jadeja is also a certainty due to his allround skills. The ones whose IPL performance will be keenly watched will be Axar Patel, as Jadeja’s backup, Ravi Bishnoi, Washington Sundar and the veteran Yuzvendra Chahal. A good season for Chahal will open Team India’s doors once again.
4) Fast bowlers and their execution
With the BCCI confirming that Mohammed Shami will miss the IPL, the focus will now be on the others vying for a place in the Indian squad for the T20 World Cup. Jasprit Bumrah is a lock-in, but he hasn’t played a T20 in a long time. He missed the 2023 IPL after undergoing a surgery for stress fracture on his back. In a World Cup year, his IPL workload also needs to be regulated. It would be interesting to see how his body holds up to the long-drawn tournament. Left-armer Arshdeep Singh is also a certainty. He would like to improve on his death-bowling skills. Others on the selectors’ radar are Mohammed Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Akash Deep and Avesh Khan. Their execution will be of keen interest.
5) Hardik as an allrounder and his backup options

The country’s premier fast bowling allrounder, Hardik Pandya has been declared fit for the IPL and will also lead the Mumbai Indians. His fitness-related struggles are now well-documented, but recently, Hardik himself said that he’ll bowl in the tournament. How he copes up with bowling, batting and the added responsibility of captaincy will be something to watch out for. But given his history of breakdowns, Hardik’s backup pace-bowling allrounders will be closely monitored. At present, Shivam Dube leads the pack with Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar also in the fray. Venkatesh Iyer is another name who’ll be kept a tab on by Ajit Agarkar & Co.

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