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Mumbai, July 6 – Ajit Agarkar, the new chairman of the men’s national selection committee, on Thursday, came under fire after the panel led by the former India and Mumbai pacer picked Yashasvi Jaiswal and Tilak Varma ahead of Ruturaj Gaikwad and Rinku Singh in the T20 team for the five-match series against West Indies in the Caribbean.
Both Jaiswal and Varma were picked in the 15-member squad led by Hardik Pandya that will play five T20 matches against the West Indies from August 5.
The move by the Agarkar-led committee to pick players with significant connection with Mumbai — Jaiswal plays for Mumbai in domestic cricket, while Varma represents Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League, has irked some fans with many of them alleging a “Mumbai mafia” at works. Most of the adverse reaction has come in for the decision not to pick Rinku Singh.
While Jaiswal is an opener just like Ruturaj Gaikwad, who is from Maharashtra and represents IPL champions Chennai Super Kings, Tital Varma and Rinku Singh are middle-order batters.
Incidentally, Gaikwad was picked by the Agarkar-less selection committee for both the Test and ODI parts of the multi-format tour of the West Indies.
On the statistical front, Rinku Singh has slightly better figures than Tilak Varma, having scored 474 runs in 14 matches in IPL 2023 at an average of 59.25 and a strike rate of 149.52.
Tilak Varma, who was in equally good form for Mumbai Indians in the IPL 2023, is also a middle-order and left-hand batter like Rinku and scored 343 runs in 11 matches at an average of 42.87 and a strike rate of 164.11.
Livid fans took to social media to flay the Ajit Agarkar-led committee for ignoring the Uttar Pradesh-born Rinku Singh.
“Ajith Agarkar (sic) became Chief Selector and Mumbai Mafia at work immediately. How can you pick Tilak over Rinku Singh? Jaiswal over Ruturaj? Mukesh/Avesh over Mohsin Khan? This is a ridiculous selection. Sanju Samson might feel extremely lucky to survive,” wrote a fan going by the handle @KattaVillain.
Other fans too were as brutal in their reaction to the selection committee’s decision as they drew comparisons with another player Sarfaraz Khan of Mumbai who was ignored by the SS Das-led panel.
“Rinku Singh is the only player in history to win TWO matches off the last ball in the same IPL season. He averages 58 in FC and 53 in List-A cricket, they ignored him. Feeling for Rinku Singh. I just hope he isn’t another Sarfaraz Khan in Indian circuit #WIvIND,” said a fan named Farid Khan (@_FaridKhan).
Another Twitter user pointed out Rinku Singh not having a godfather in Indian cricket.
“He is Rinku singh, KKR batsman. He hails from a poor background, marginalised society, became cricketer after a lot of struggles, scored 470+ runs IPL 2023.
“He surpassed many greats this season. But today he has not been selected for Ind vs WI T20 series. Rinku has everything like talent and class but he doesn’t have any Godfather,” said a user going by the name Dr Nimo Yadav (@niiravmodi).
Said another Twitter user, “Tilak Varma is selected I’m happy for him but why not Rinku Singh just why not? He performs in IPL. He performs in domestic (cricket). What else he can do? It hurts.”
“This is ridiculous, Rinku Singh performed so well in the last IPL, Tilak is nowhere in front of him, this is favouritism by Rohit, he himself doesn’t perform and is trying to make the Indian team full of MI people, shameless,” wrote another user on Twitter.