Cricket

India Squad For ICC T20 World Cup: Did Impact Player Rule Close Doors For Rinku Singh?

Those who were privy to the selection meeting held in Ahmedabad on Tuesday unanimously agreed that Rinku became an easy omission for the panel because he couldn't be fitted alongside Hardik Pandya and Dube in the same 15

AP/Bikas Das
Rinku Singh couldn't make the Indian main squad for T20 World Cup Photo: AP/Bikas Das
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The 'Impact Player' rule, which has made IPL contests quite literally a "12-a-side affair", has dealt a raw deal to power-hitter Rinku Singh who couldn't make the Indian main squad for T20 World Cup as he simply did not have enough game time to his credit. (More Cricket News)

The 26-year-old Aligarh left-hander, who captured the cricketing world's imagination with five sixes in an over during the previous IPL, made way for Shivam Dube in the main national squad while his name ended up being among the reserves.

Dube got in thanks to more game time for Chennai Super Kings during the first 10 games of the league.

Those who were privy to the selection meeting held in Ahmedabad on Tuesday unanimously agreed that Rinku became an easy omission for the panel because he couldn't be fitted alongside Hardik Pandya and Dube in the same 15.

"No doubt, Rinku paid the price for the Impact Player Rule. He is plain and simple unlucky. Hardik might be in poor form but he is still India's best seam bowling all-rounder and it would have been a risk dropping him considering he is the only one who has bowled," a BCCI source told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

So how did the Impact Player Rule become Rinku's undoing?

Kolkata Knight Riders treated Rinku as a finisher and he never got a chance to bat in the top five. In eight innings before selection, he played merely 82 balls, which is just about 10 balls per innings.

The two Iyers -- Venkatesh and skipper Shreyas -- along with Angkrish Raghuvanshi, who is anything but a power-hitter got a majority of the overs, leaving Rinku with very little to do in the end.

One can't blame KKR for not promoting Rinku but truth be told, the two Iyers were never in contention for national selection. Their names weren't even up for a discussion.

In contrast, Chennai Super Kings and their shrewd tactician Mahendra Singh Dhoni have been making optimum use of Dube ever since he came in during the 2021 season.

Dube has got to play 203 balls in nine games so far for CSK. That's around 23 balls per game -- 13 more than Rinku, which enabled him to muscle 26 sixes apart from 24 fours.

Rinku, in his 82 balls, hit nine fours and six sixes.

The 13 extra balls that Dube, as Impact Player, got made all the difference, especially on flatter decks where one could hit through the line.

Rinku, didn't even get his fair share of batting on tracks where Raghuvanshi and the Iyers consumed more deliveries.

Dube hasn't been bowling his medium pacers as Dhoni has rightly judged that his bowling ability is below par and on most days, he will be a stationary target for batters keen on range hitting.

Dhoni made best use of Dube and is instrumental in putting him in national reckoning based on core skill -- power hitting on slower decks.

If there wasn't an Impact Player Rule, it is not clear if Dhoni and current CSK captain Ruturaj Gaikwad would have been able to use Dube in his current avatar.

Therefore, Rinku's strike rate of 176 in 15 games for India till January 2024, which included two fifties, has not been enough to fetch him a spot in the main squad.

Just like Ambati Rayudu's exclusion was one of the most unfortunate decisions before the 2019 ODI World Cup, one can only hope that Rinku's omission from the main squad isn't a harakiri in the end.

With Rinku being a part of the travelling reserves, he has a chance of getting into the 15 in case any of the first team members get injured.

Also, till May 23, selectors won't need any reason to change the squad if they feel it's necessary.

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