Indian selectors recalled opener KL Rahul while bringing in hard-hitting wicketkeeper batsman Rishabh Pant for the five-match ODI series against Australia at home.
The squad for the five-match series is more or less the one the Indians will be going in with at the 2019 World Cup. Which means it is almost certain that Dinesh Karthik will not be a part of India’s World Cup side after failing to make the cut in the ODI squads for either the first two or last three matches.
The decision to drop Karthik is an interesting one as it comes after he was criticised for not taking a single in the final over chase against New Zealand in the third T20. In Hamilton, with 14 needed from four balls and an in-form Krunal Pandya at the other end, Karthik refused a single and then failed to secure victory himself.
India play two T20s against Australia – starting on February 24 – before hosting them for five ODI early next month.
The decision to select Pant was long overdue with the absence of an in-form, hard-hitting lower order batsman felt over the past season.
Rahul is back in the team as a back-up opener after scoring a couple of 80s against the England Lions in first-class cricket.
Virat Kohli will lead India in all the games, with fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah also selected for all matches after being given a rest for limited overs clashes in Australia and New Zealand.
All-rounder Vijay Shankar seems to have done enough to gain the trust of the team management to be the second all-rounder behind Hardik Pandya.
MS Dhoni remains the main wicketkeeper with Mohammed Shami selected for all five ODIs, ahead of Bhuvneshwar Kumar who has been picked for the last three. It means Shami has overtaken Bhuvi to become the No2 ODI bowler for India.
India squad for 1st and 2nd ODIs: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Vijay Shankar, Rishabh Pant, Siddharth Kaul, KL Rahul
India’s squad for last three ODIs: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Vijay Shankar, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant
India batting prodigy Prithvi Shaw returned to training after recovering from the ankle injury that ruled him out of Australia Test series.
The 19-year-old Shaw has started batting in the nets at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru ahead of the domestic Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament.
The Mumbai batsman scored a century on Test debut against the West Indies in October but missed India’s historic Test series win in Australia after injuring his ankle during a warm-up match.
“I felt sad as it was a good opportunity for me to play the quality Australian bowling line-up. I was a bit upset,” Shaw was quoted as saying by the Indian Express.
“But some things aren’t in your hands. Now I am looking forward to the Mushtaq Ali tournament to find my touch and gain my confidence back,” opener said.
Shaw became the youngest Indian batsman to score a century on debut when he hit 134 in the Rajkot Test at the age of 18 years, 10 months and 25 days. Shaw also made 70 and 33 not out in the second Test against the West Indies and was named man of the series.
India and New Zealand will lock horns in the third and final T20I in Hamilton on Sunday to decide the series winner. It is currently locked at 1-1 and a first T20 series victory in New Zealand will be the icing on the cake for the ‘Men in Blue’.
India have a phenomenal record in T20I cricket over the last 12-15 months. The past three months have made for a memorable phase for the Indian cricket team; they won their first Test and bilateral ODI series in Australia followed by the biggest one-day series win in New Zealand.
They have not lost a single series having won seven and drawn two of the nine series they have played in this period (since October 2017).
Their record in ODI cricket is no different. They have won 13 of the 15 series/tournaments they have played since June 2016.
Rohit Sharma has never lost a T20I series as a skipper and he has a side which can keep the record intact.
Kane Williamson and his team have shown that they are a force to reckon with in the shortest form though, especially when they are in home conditions.