Hardik Pandya Rishabh Pant

Just over a month ago, questions swirled about Rishabh Pant’s ability to even play in the IPL. Now, on the eve of the T20 World Cup team selection, he’s emerged as a serious contender for a leadership role.

Selectors are expected to meet on May 1st and may re-appoint Pant as India’s vice-captain, a position he held before a horrific accident in December. He even captained India in a T20I series against South Africa last year.

Pant’s assured place as India’s first-choice wicketkeeper for the World Cup makes his leadership case stronger. However, the decision isn’t clear-cut. Hardik Pandya, last year’s vice-captain pick, is another option.

Pandya’s leadership struggles with the Mumbai Indians in the IPL might work against him. Questionable decisions and public criticism of teammates haven’t gone unnoticed by selectors.

Still, Pandya’s credentials as a leader can’t be ignored. His bowling adds another dimension to his value, but whether he’ll get the captaincy nod remains to be seen.

Looking at the rest of the squad, the top order seems settled with Rohit Sharma, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, and Suryakumar Yadav. The middle order will likely feature Pant, Pandya, and Ravindra Jadeja. Shivam Dube, Rinku Singh, Sanju Samson, or KL Rahul could also find a spot.

Kuldeep Yadav is a lock for the specialist spinner role, while Axar Patel might pip Ravi Bishnoi for the second spinner’s spot. Despite his IPL performance, Yuzvendra Chahal is unlikely to be considered.

Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, and Arshdeep Singh are sure-shot picks for the pace attack. Sandeep Sharma, with his slow-medium pace that could be effective on slower pitches, might join them based on the IPL’s lack of standout pacers.

The final call on a fourth pacer and Shubman Gill’s inclusion will rest with captain Rohit Sharma.