On a busy day, chief selector Chetan Sharma and his colleagues, along with captain Rohit Sharma and coach Rahul Dravid, met virtually to also pick the 16-member India squads for the forthcoming T20I series at home against Australia (three matches beginning with the first on September 20 in Mohali) and South Africa (three matches beginning with the first on Sept 28 in Thiruvananthapuram).
The 2022 T20 World Cup is set to take place from October 16 to November 13 Down Under. India launch their campaign against Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on October 23, before taking on South Africa in Perth on Oct 30, Bangladesh on Nov 2 and then a qualifier on Nov 6 in Melbourne.
The team will be led by Rohit, with his fellow opener KL Rahul being his deputy, as India retained almost the entire top-order which played in the T20 World Cup in UAE, where the team crashed out before the semifinals.
With the T20 World Cup so near, the key decision-makers in Indian cricket didn’t want to press the panic button. Skipper Rohit had recently said that “95%” of the squad had been identified, and as was estimated, there were no big surprises in India’s T20 World Cup squad.
“The average age of the squad is more than 27. Clearly, the idea is to back experience and play safe in a tournament like the World Cup,” said a source.
Bumrah (back injury) and Patel (side strain) had missed out on the recently-held Asia Cup in UAE, but made a comeback after recovering from their injuries at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. With 19 wickets, Harshal has been India’s second-highest wicket-taker in T20Is this year, with only Bhuvneshwar Kumar (31) ahead of him. Obviously, their return will bolster India’s under-fire pace attack.
After India’s pace attack struggled to contain runs in the defeats against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup, there was speculation that experienced pacer Mohammed Shami would be picked for the T20I World Cup. While Shami could only find a spot as one of the four standby players who will travel with the team to Australia – the others being Shreyas Iyer, Ravi Bishnoi and Deepak Chahar – he has been picked for both the home T20I series against Australia and South Africa. Clearly, he’ll be the first-choice fast bowler should any of the pacers suffer a breakdown in Australia.
As expected, young pacer Avesh Khan, who has taken 13 wickets in 15 T20Is at a high economy rate of 9. 10, was dropped, with the selectors preferring 23-year-old left-arm seamer Arshdeep Singh for the T20 World Cup. Arshdeep has been rested from the T20I series against Australia, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya have been given a break from the T20Is against South Africa. “Hardik Pandya, Arshdeep Singh and Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be reporting to the NCA for conditioning-related work during the course of the home series against Australia and South Africa,” the BCCI said.
Ace left-arm spinning allrounder Ravindra Jadeja couldn’t be a part of the squad after having suffered a bad “training-related” injury during the recent Asia Cup in UAE, and has been replaced by a player with similar skills in Axar Patel. Deepak Hooda too has been picked. The T20 WC selection rounds off a fabulous last few months for Hooda, who enjoyed a breakout season with Lucknow Super Giants in IPL2022, making 451 runs in 15 games @ 32.21 at a strike rate of 136.66.
For India, Hooda has scored 293 runs in 12 games @ 41.85, and at a strike rate of 155.85, including a century against Ireland. Veteran wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik, who the team management feels performs a crucial role in overs 16-20, has retained his place in the side along with Rishabh Pant. It meant that Sanju Samson missed out.
It seems the selectors have discounted Team India’s sub-par performance in the Asia Cup. Barring those who missed the tournament due to injury (Bumrah and Harshal) or those who got in due to an injury sustained during the tournament (Axar for Jadeja), the same team has been retained. One can only hope that this policy of no change does not cost India.
Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, veteran off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar are the three spinners in India’s T20 World Cup squad.
The decision to prefer Ashwin over the impressive young leggie Bishnoi can be termed as debatable, but then India have avoided any kind of risks in terms of selection for this big event.
India finished third in the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup and failed to qualify for the final. They lost to Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the Super 4 stage, before beating Afghanistan in their final match.
Dhawan likely to lead India in ODIs vs SA
The squad for the ODI series against South Africa, which will kick off on October 6 in Lucknow, wasn’t picked on Monday but it’s understood that with the T20 side away in Australia, that outfit will be led by opener Shikhar Dhawan, who is now essentially perceived by the selectors as a “purely ODI batsman”.
INDIA SQUAD FOR AUSTRALIA T20IS: Rohit Sharma (captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Dinesh Karthik (wicketkeeper), Hardik Pandya, R. Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohd. Shami, Harshal Patel, Deepak Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah
INDIA SQUAD FOR SOUTH AFRICA T20IS: Rohit Sharma (captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Dinesh Karthik (wicketkeeper), R. Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Arshdeep Singh, Mohd. Shami, Harshal Patel, Deepak Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah