T20 World Cup: First batch of Indian players depart for US

On 25th May (Saturday), the first batch of Indian cricketers arrived at the Mumbai airport to start their journey to the USA for the upcoming T20 World Cup 2024, commencing on June 2.

Along with Indian captain Rohit Sharma, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and top-ranked T20I batter Suryakumar Yadav, there were other team members namely Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah, Shivam Dube, Kuldeep Yadav, Arshdeep Singh, Mohammed Siraj, and Axar Patel.

Additionally, Team India’s head coach Rahul Dravid, batting coach Vikram Rathour and other staff members geared up for a challenging quest to win the second T20 World Cup title. Even two out of four reserve players namely Shubman Gill and Khaleel Ahmed were spotted at the Mumbai airport.

The trio players of the Rajasthan Royals franchise namely Yuzvendra Chahal, Yashasvi Jaiswal and the reserve player Avesh Khan, recently departed from Mumbai as the second batch on May 27 (Monday), and are excited to join the first batch of players.

On the other side, Rinku Singh as the reserve player will be travelling on a later date, since he recently participated in the IPL 2024 finals on May 26 (Sunday).

Especially, fans questioned the absence of the Indian star batter Virat Kohli and Team India’s vice-captain Hardik Pandya, who weren’t spotted among the first batch of Indian cricketers.

Moreover, these three players namely Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya and Sanju Samson have informed BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) about their late departure to the USA.

Why Virat Kohli didn’t travel to the USA for the T20 World Cup 2024?

One of the main reasons why Virat Kohli didn’t travel along with the Indian cricket team to the United States is that he requested a short break after the IPL 2024 season. After Royal Challengers Bengaluru’s defeat to Rajasthan Royals in the eliminator round of IPL 2024 on 22nd May (Wednesday), Virat Kohli was supposed to travel along with Rohit Sharma to New York.

Also, the BCCI accepted his approval because Kohli showcased his best form in IPL 2024 and ranked as the leading run-scorer of the tournament by winning the orange cap (741 runs in 15 matches).

Perhaps, this is the main reason why BCCI scheduled his appointment for a visa at a later date. Moreover, it is expected that Kohli will fly out to the USA on the morning of 30th May.

Why Sanju Samson didn’t travel to New York with Team India?

The Indian wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson didn’t travel to New York since he had to take care of some personal work in Dubai and BCCI granted his request for an extended leave.

However, it wouldn’t have been possible for Sanju Samson to travel along with the first batch of players on May 25. This is because Sanju Samson’s led Rajasthan Royals (RR) lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad on May 24 (Friday) in the Qualifier 2 round of IPL 2024 playoffs played in Chennai. In such scenarios, these three players from the RR franchise namely Yuzvendra Chahal, Yashasvi Jaiswal, and Avesh Khan would had only less than 24 hours to join Rohit Sharma and his group at the Mumbai airport, which was completely impossible.

Why Hardik Pandya didn’t reach New York along with the first batch of Team India?

The latest reports indicate that Hardik Pandya is currently undergoing a short training session in London, and is expected to join the Indian cricket team directly from there, rather than travelling with the first group. As a result, the Indian cricket team’s vice-captain could take part in the warm-up match against Bangladesh.

Earlier, it was believed that the Mumbai Indians skipper was supposed to join the first batch, especially when his team was eliminated from the IPL 2024 playoffs at an early stage.

After facing severe criticism during the league stages of IPL 2024, Hardik Pandya is currently facing another controversy regarding his personal life. Particularly, his absence among the first group of players fueled the rumours about his divorce from his wife Natasa Stankovic. The speculations reached a peak level when the couple’s followers observed Natasa remove the surname ‘Pandya’ from her Instagram account and change back to her original name. However, there isn’t any official confirmation, neither from Hardik Pandya nor Natasa Stankovic.

Rohit Sharma denies eating cake before leaving for T20 World Cup 2024!

Several star Indian cricketers were photographed outside the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj airport in Mumbai and one such video became popular on social media when Rohit Sharma refused to eat the cake offered by Rishabh Pant before they boarded the plane.

Team India held a small ceremony and Rohit said in Hindi that he would like to have the cake after India wins the T20 World Cup trophy.

Consequently, fans remember one similar moment during the post-match press conference of the Asia Cup 2023 final, where there was a lot of noise due to bursting crackers. Rohit Sharma gave a cheeky reply saying that the crackers should be burst after India wins the World Cup 2023 trophy in front of his home crowd.

This is the 3rd time, Rohit Sharma is going to lead Team India as the captain in the ICC-white ball tournament. Under his captaincy, the Indian cricket team were the semi-finalist of the T20 World Cup in 2022 and the runner-up of the ODI World Cup in 2023.

Conclusion:

Possibly, Virat Kohli might miss the first warm-up match against Bangladesh on 1st June 2024 (Saturday), as he would have less time for preparation after his first day stay in New York. Also, the departure date of Sanju Samson is yet to be confirmed by the BCCI.

The Indian cricket team’s battle for the T20 World Cup commences with their first three matches held at a common venue (Nassau International Cricket Stadium) in New York.

On June 5, Team India will compete against Ireland, followed by a high-voltage clash against Pakistan on June 9 and a match against the United States on June 12. However, their last match of the group stages will be played against Canada on June 15 at Lauderhill before qualifying for the super-eight stages of the tournament.

Ever since Team India won the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013 under MS Dhoni’s captaincy, they haven’t lifted a single ICC trophy over these years, despite reaching the knockout stages several times.

Ultimately, the Men-in-Blue led by Rohit Sharma are determined to break their 10-year ICC trophy drought period across all formats and aim to become the defending champions of the upcoming T20 World Cup tournament.

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