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Updated January 11th, 2024 at 19:35 IST

Will THIS ignored player be India's X-factor at T20 World Cup? Suresh Raina definitely thinks so

Suresh Raina commented on India's squad and opined that a talented player can be India's X-factor in the T20 World Cup 2024 due to his sharp mind.

Suresh Raina with Virat Kohli during IPL 2016
Suresh Raina with Virat Kohli during IPL 2016 | Image:BCCI
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Team India have been searching for their first ICC title in more than 10 years despite being one of the most consistent and dominant teams in world cricket in the past decade. India have won most bilateral series and are often ranked no.1 in ICC rankings but have always fallen short in crucial stages of the World Cup. After narrowly missing out on the ODI World Cup 2023 title, India have a chance to regain glory when they head to West Indies and the USA for the T20 World Cup 2024. 

3 things you need to know

  • T20 World Cup 2024 will take place in June in West Indies and USA
  • Team India will look to end their trophy drought in 2024
  • Middle-order only has a few places up for grabs

Sanju Samson can be India's X-factor at T20 WC: Raina

Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma recently made their returns to the T20I setup for India after more than 14 months. This has narrowed down the places in contention in the playing XI as dropping Rohit or Virat seems to be a distant dream. With Suryakumar and Hardik Pandya also confirmed to be int he playing XI, the question comes down to Rinku Singh, Sanju Samson and Tilak Varma in the middle-order. Former India batsman Suresh Raina commented on the situation and opined that Samson can be India's X-factor in the tournament due to his sharp mind while Rinku could be a potential match-winner for the side. 

The former middle-order batter, who was part of India's World Cup wins in 2007 and 2011, was delighted to see the progress of Rinku Singh. "Rinku has done well in the available opportunities for him and he showed a lot of presence of mind as a finisher as well. He is a fearless cricketer. "It is important to have him around and if Rishabh Pant gets fit in time (for WC), then the team will have another match-winner," said Raina.

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The 37-year-old backed Sanju Samson as his leading choice for the wicketkeeper-batsman role and called the Kerala player the X-Factor. “Sanju has made a wonderful hundred against South Africa recently. He is definitely a captain material as his mind is ticking all the time while on the field. We have some very good options for the wicketkeeper-batter role - KL Rahul, Jitesh Sharma, Ishan Kishan and Pant whenever he comes back after getting fit.”

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In that context, Raina hoped Samson would come up with a good outing against the Afghans and in the IPL 2024. "I prefer to have Sanju in the middle-order because he has a lot of shots. He plays those pick-up shots against pacers from the length. Hopefully, he performs well in the IPL too before the selectors sit down to select the team for the T20 World Cup. So, it is a good chance for Sanju against Afghanistan, and he can be our X-Factor in the World Cup," he detailed. 

Raina believes India needs the experience of Rohit and Virat

Raina termed the selection of veterans Rohit and Virat into the national squad for the T20I series against Afghanistan as a wise call with the World Cup fast approaching. Rohit and Kohli were included in India's T20 squad after a gap of 14 months, and Raina said their presence will give the squad a lot of solidity.

"If you look at the World Cup venues (in the USA and the West Indies), the wicket will be a bit tricky. India will need the experience of Rohit and Kohli there. Kohli is about to make 12000 runs in T20 cricket. So, their presence will boost India's batting. Their presence will certainly better India's chances to win the T20 WC," Said Raina, now an expert with Jio Cinema and Sports18.

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"Their form in the ODI World Cup was very good, and Rohit brings in a lot of intent to the dressing room as the leader as well." 

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Raina opined that Kohli should bat at No. 3, leaving the opening slots to Rohit and Yashasvi Jaiswal. 

"I think Kohli should bat at No. 3. His experience will bring in some solidity, especially in the challenging pitches in the US and the Caribbean. There are fearless, young cricketers like Jaiswal, Rinku Singh or Shubman Gill but Rohit and Kohli will give the unit a lot of solidity. Their presence is very important when we chase a target especially in a high-pressure event like the World Cup," said Raina.

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(with PTI inputs)

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Published January 11th, 2024 at 19:32 IST

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