If not quite, but the recently concluded run of five games against South Africa at home has given India a clue as to their last 15 for the 2022 T20 World Cup. And while India head coach Rahul Dravid has yet to bolster his World Cup squad, veterans and legends of the game have already begun their assessment of the Indian team and their potential roster. Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith, who was in India for the entire T20I match, chose two players who could not be removed from the Indian squad on Tuesday.
The South African legend was in awe of Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik, both of whom returned to the Indian team after a long hiatus. While the star all-rounder had missed all of India’s matches since the 2021 T20 World Cup due to his recovery from a back injury, Karthik forced his way back to the reckoning with a stellar show in IPL 2022 after last played for India in 2019 World cup.
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In four innings, Hardik scored 117 runs with a hitting rate of 153.9. He also threw five overs in the series, albeit wicketless. Karthik, on the other hand, hit 92 runs in four innings with a breathtaking 158.6 success rate, scoring a half-century.
Speaking to cricket.com a day after the T20I series, Smith singled out Hardik and Karthik as the two players who could not be dropped for the big event in Australia later this year.
“There’s still a lot of cricket to play, so it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen in the coming months, but you’re going to think Hardik and DK are an integral part of that squad. DK has experience with that last role he’s played. Hardik has grown a lot and has his game under control. Mentally he looks like he’s settled down. And he’s also that all-rounder X Factor India needs to balance the team with him and Jadeja in the squad, which gives a lot of options. So I can’t see those two not making the World Cup squad,” he said.
India will play a two-game series against Ireland later this month, before taking on England and the West Indies respectively in the format.
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