Agarkar reveals why Sanju Samson was preferred over KL Rahul

Sanju & Rohit
Sanju Samson with Indian captain Rohit Sharma. FIle photo: PTI/Shailendra Bhojak

Mumbai: Indian chief selector Ajit Agarkar on Thursday said that K L Rahul missed out on a spot in the T20 World Cup squad because they were looking for "guys" who can bat in the middle, paving the way for Kerala captain Sanju Samson's inclusion as the team's second wicketkeeper.
"KL's a terrific player. The thing is we were looking for is guys who bat at the middle and at the moment KL is batting at the top. We feel Sanju (Samson) has the ability to come down the order if need be. Rishabh (Pant) is batting at No. 5, that was more the thinking.

"It was not whether KL was better or these guys were better. It was about the slots that we needed (to fill) and we felt that these two are better equipped at this point or have spent time towards the latter part of the innings which might be needed in the World Cup," Agarkar said.
Agarkar aslo defended Hardik Pandya's inclusion in the squad, saying that "there is no replacement for what he can do" and also asserted that players' performances in IPL did not influence the selection.

Hardik, who is enduring a very difficult IPL season as captain of Mumbai Indians, was not just picked in the Indian team for the upcoming showpiece but was also made the team's vice-captain, leaving many in the cricket fraternity surprised.
Hardik last featured in an international match for India during the ODI World Cup match against Bangladesh in October, 2023.
"Nothing was discussed with regards to vice-captaincy. (About) form, you want all guys to be in good form. He has come after a longish year off. The good part that we have looked at is he has got through all the games so far for MI," Agarkar told reporters when asked about the all-rounder's selection and appointment as Rohit Sharma's deputy.

"We have got another month and a little bit till the first game. We know he is doing that and the hope is that he keeps building on that form.
"As long as he stays fit, we know what he brings, how much balance he gives the team. I don't think there is a replacement for the things that he can do as a cricketer at the moment, especially when it comes to the way he bowls," Agarkar said.
"Really, (with) his balance (he) gives Rohit options to play different combinations, so his fitness for us is critical and so far, fortunately, he is doing okay as an athlete," he added.
(With inputs from PTI)

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