T20 World Cup 2024: Hardik will produce something 'special' - Yuvraj Singh

T20 World Cup 2024: Hardik will produce something 'special' - Yuvraj Singh
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Dubai: Former India cricketer Yuvraj Singh has picked Rishabh Pant over Sanju Samson for the wicket-keeper's role in the playing XI and also backed under-fire Hardik Pandya to produce something "special" in the T20 World Cup despite enduring a torrid form.
India have named a strong 15-member contingent and four travelling reserves to be led by Rohit Sharma for T20I cricket's showpiece event, which will be held in the West Indies and the USA starting June 1.
Sticking to his preference for a left-right batting combination throughout the line-up, Yuvraj has leaned towards Pant over Samson for the vital wicket-keeper's role.
"I'd probably go for Rishabh. Obviously Sanju is also in great form, but Rishabh (is a) left-hander, and I believe that Rishabh has massive potential to win games for India, which he has done in the past," Yuvraj, an ambassador of the upcoming T20 World Cup, told ICC.
"Lot more in Test cricket, and he's someone who I feel can be a match-winner on the big stage."
While both Pant and Samson have been in sensational form in the IPL, India vice-captain Hardik has struggled to find his batting rhythm but Yuvraj remains optimistic about the all-rounder's impact in the T20 World Cup.
"Well, the good thing is that the selection has been made. (Selectors see) how players have performed at international cricket and then they look at IPL form. Just not the IPL form," said Yuvraj, who was part of India's 2007 World Cup winning team.
"Because if you look at the IPL form, Hardik's not done well. Looking at his background for India, what he's done for India, it is important that he's in the squad. I think his bowling is going to be important, and his fitness is going to be important. And I think he might do something really special in this World Cup."
Talking about India's batting-order, Yuvraj wants Rohit and Yashasvi Jaiswal at the top followed by Virat Kohli.
"I think Rohit (Sharma) and (Yashasvi) Jaiswal should definitely open," Yuvraj said.
"Virat (Kohli) has been batting at No.3 and that's his position. And then you get Surya (Yadav) at four, and then you got a couple of big options.
"I'd like to see a couple of left-hand, right-hand combinations because it is harder to bowl at two combinations all the time."
Yuvraj also felt that Shivam Dube has secured his place in the squad rightfully, but felt bad for Rinku Singh and Shubman Gill, who will be travelling as reserves.
"I think with Shivam Dube, the last T20 series he played for India, I think he did well. And he's been very consistent in the IPL as well," Yuvraj noted.
"I just felt the kind of form he's in, it was important for him to be in the squad. I really think he can make a huge difference in the middle order or the lower middle order, so it's good to see him in the Indian T20 squad.
"It was a bit unfortunate for Shubman Gill and Rinku Singh. If I talk about Rinku, obviously he has been in good form for India and he has done so well for KKR. And I see a lot of improvement in his batting in the last couple of years.
"Unfortunate for him and Shubman obviously, scoring tons of runs, from the last year someone who has scored the most number of hundreds for India. From the last two years, and to miss out, as I said that's the nature of selecting a World Cup squad and I'm sure these guys will be the first ones whenever there's an opportunity."
India will begin their T20 World Cup campaign on June 5 against Ireland before taking on Pakistan on June 9 at the newly-constructed Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York.