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With the 15th edition of the Indian Premier League going on in full swing, it is an excellent opportunity for upcoming players to make a name for themselves ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup going to be held in Australia later this year.

IPL has given India a plethora of superstar batters, and it continues to do so every year. But it has also offered a headache to the selection committee to pick the right players. India last won an ICC event in 2013 under the captaincy of iconic leader Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Since then, India has always entered as favourites in any ICC tournament but has failed to cash on their chances due to batting collapses. Are the selection committee and the coaching staff for the Indian National cricket team missing a trick here?

We look at who would represent India in this year’s ICC T20 tournament if India were to pick its batters purely based on statistics.

India’s run-machine Virat Kohli would be the first name on the list. Despite a poor run of form in the current domestic season, Kohli has churned out 3296 runs for India at a strike rate of 137.68 and an impressive batting average of 51.50 in 97 T20 internationals.

Kohli is just behind current Indian captain Rohit Sharma who would be the second name on the list. Sharma is the highest run-getter for India in the T20s, having scored 3313 runs but has played 28 more games than Kohli. He has a strike rate of 139.55 and an average of 32.48 for India.

One of the more reliable players for India, KL Rahul, with a batting average of 40.69 and a strike rate in excess of 140.0 in 56 internationals, he is undoubtedly the third name on the list. He is India’s third-highest run-getter with 1831 runs to his name.

The list gets trickier from here as players who have managed more runs have managed to do so in significantly more matches, meaning their batting average has dropped heavily and at a lower strike rate than players who have debuted for India in the last couple of years.

Dinesh Karthik would be the ideal fourth candidate for a spot in the team. A player who has been in the Indian set-up for over a decade long but is overlooked in big tournaments. The wicket-keeper batsman made his debut in 2006, also India’s first T20 game ever competing against South Africa, in which he was adjudged the player of the match.

Karthik has played a mere 31 matches in the T20s since his debut in 2006. Despite impressive numbers, he is regularly overlooked in ICC tournaments which is hard to understand. Karthik has a batting average of 36.27 and a stirring strike rate of 146.15 in this format.

Next in line is Suryakumar Yadav, who has been in the domestic circuit since 2010 but only managed to make his international debut in March 2021 and has never looked back since. He has played 14 times for the country and has a batting average of 39.00 and a staggering strike rate of 165.57, which is also the highest by any batter for India.

Shreyas Iyer will bag the last spot with a batting average of 229.0 in the current calendar year and an overall average of 36.77 in T20s. He has managed 809 runs for India in 32 matches at a strike rate of 141.43.

Noticeable absentees from this list are Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya. Dhawan, a prolific run-getter in the domestic circuit in recent memory, has failed to break through into the Indian team since he was dropped. Dhawan has consistently outscored Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma in the IPL in the previous four editions, including this one. He is just behind Virat Kohli in most runs scored in the IPL history, with 6086 runs to his name.

Rishabh Pant, a power hitter for Delhi, strikes the ball in surplus of 150 but has failed to replicate his form for the country. In his 43 outings, he has managed 683 runs at an average of 24.39 and a strike rate of 126.01, nowhere near his best.

The injury-prone Hardik Pandya, who made his name as an all-rounder, has failed to impress the selectors since he stopped bowling due to an injury and has eventually lost his place in the team. He has an impressive strike rate of 146.30 playing for India but has an average of 20.48 in T20 internationals. It is hard to see him make a comeback as a batter despite having a good domestic season.

If the team management and the selection committee are to go purely by the stats, then we surely know which batters will carry the hope of an entire nation to win the T20 World Cup.

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August 2022
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