Shubman Gill, Mohammed Siraj dropped, Sanju Samson replaced by KL Rahul in Mohammad Kaif's Indian squad for T20 World Cup | Cricket

As the deadline approaches for the selection of the T20 World Cup squad, speculation is rife about which stars of the Indian team will be part of the 15-member squad. This year's Indian Premier League holds particular importance for team selection, as the T20 World Cup begins just five days into the season; Naturally, tournament performance will likely have a key impact on the final team.

Shubman Gill (L) and Mohammed Siraj (C) failed to find a place in Kaif's T20 WC squad. KL Rahul (R) has been included as second choice WK(PTI/AFP)

As Indian skipper Rohit Sharma prepares for a meeting with chief selector Ajit Agarkar and head coach Rahul Dravid to finalize the squad, several former Indian cricketers have weighed in, proposing their own 15-member squads and grappling with difficult decisions to make. Former Indian cricketer Mohammad Kaif on Friday also listed his 15-member squad, while also naming his first-choice Indian XI. The Indian team is set to kick off their campaign in the showpiece tournament against Ireland on June 5.

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Unlike a few – including former captain Sourav Ganguly – who believe Virat Kohli should open next to Rohit Sharma, Kaif said he would want Yashasvi Jaiswal to bowl the Indian innings alongside the captain. Virat Kohli, the current holder of the Orange Cap in the current IPL season, regains his place at No. 3 in the XI. To follow him is Suryakumar Yadavwho made his return to competitive cricket this year initial loadingAlso.

Another returnee, Rishabh pants, who produced an emphatic performance in his previous match for Delhi Capitals against Gujarat Titans (88* off 43 balls), was picked as India's first-choice wicketkeeper by Mohammad Kaif. He found his place at No.5 in Kaif's XI, with the under-fire Hardik Pandya coming in at No.6.

Pandya's stint as Mumbai Indians skipper has not gone as planned so far. Under Hardik, MI started slowly, losing their first three matches before registering their first win against Delhi Capitals. MI are currently eighth in the IPL 2024 table with three wins to their name so far.

Ravindra Jadeja, who plays for Chennai Super Kings, is Kaif's No.7, while Axar Patel also finds a place in the XI. Kuldeep Yadav, who has been brilliant for DC in the IPL season so far, is next, with pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Arshdeep Singh completing the XI.

The bench

A surprise was in store in Kaif's remaining squad as Mohammed Siraj, who has been part of the Indian team in all formats over the past few years, failed to find a place in the last 15. Sandeep Sharma, who last played for the national team in July 2015. Sandeep, who plies his trade for Rajasthan Royals in IPL, was brilliant for the team in their previous match against Mumbai Indians , taking five wickets; he recorded figures of 5/18 in the game.

Shivam Dube and Rinku Singh, who were fighting for a single place in the team, found their places on the bench in Kaif's last-16 match. Dube has been in explosive form for CSK in the current season, while Rinku, too, has been a regular for Team India in the shortest format since last year's IPL.

While many included Sanju Samson in their 15-member squad, Kaif put the RR captain in the reserves, instead selecting KL Rahul as the final member of the squad for the T20 World Cup. Samson is on the backup list alongside IPL's leading wicket-taker Yuzvendra Chahal and Avesh Khan.

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