The India selectors met on Sunday to announce the squads for the upcoming tour of the West Indies and there were a few surprises.
With the tour coming immediately after the 2019 ICC World Cup in England, it was always going to be interesting to see which approach the selectors took for the future.
In the end, some questions were answered while others were not. Here, we look at the key takeaways from the India squad announcement.
BHUVNESHWAR’S TEST EXILE CONTINUES
One of the biggest surprises in the Test squad was the omission of Bhuvneshwar Kumar with the seamer missing out once again. Once a front-line Test bowler for India, Bhuvneshwar has now not made an appearance in the format since the tour of South Africa at the start of 2018.
A back injury meant that he did not feature in the subsequent Test series in England and he has found it difficult to find a way back since. The 29-year-old did not get a single game in India’s historic Test series triumph in Australia while he did not play the home Tests against Afghanistan and West Indies either last year.
Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav will carry the pace responsibilities for India in the Caribbean while Bhuvneshwar will have to be content with a place in the limited-overs squads. Is there a way back into the Test squad for the seamer now?
END OF THE ROAD FOR KARTHIK?
With Dinesh Karthik not being picked for either the T20 or ODI squads, it looks like the end of the road in international cricket for the veteran wicketkeeper-batsman.
The 34-year-old was picked as the reserve wicketkeeper in the World Cup squad but still found himself behind Rishabh Pant in the pecking order once the youngster was drafted in as a replacement.
Karthik did not really get many opportunities in England but his disastrous showing with the bat in the semi-final loss to New Zealand seems to have cost him a place in the squad. The Chennai-born player would have expected to make the cut for at least the T20 squad but even those doors have been closed on him now.
At his age, it will be difficult for Karthik to make another comeback to international cricket but he has done it before.
CHAHAR COUSINS MAKE IT BIG
Sunday’s squad announcement would have been cause for jubilation in the Chahar family with both Deepak and Rahul finding a place in the T20 squad. While Deepak has already appeared in an ODI and T20 for India previously, it was the maiden international call up for cousin brother Rahul.
The young leg-spinner made his mark in the 2019 edition of the IPL with Mumbai Indians with 13 wickets at an impressive economy-rate of 6.55 in his debut season. Deepak too had an impressive IPL campaign with Chennai Super Kings this year with the seamer picking up 22 wickets in 17 appearances.
Thank you all for your prayers and blessings. A Dream come true 🙏🏻 Keep supporting https://t.co/317CFCpzpt— Rahul Chahar (@rdchahar1) July 21, 2019
DHONI FUTURE UNCLEAR
The limelight was always going to be on MS Dhoni as India’s selectors met with the veteran’s future in international cricket being the big burning question.
In the end, no clearer answer was provided with the wicketkeeper batsman making himself unavailable for the tour. The 2019 World Cup was heavily speculated to be Dhoni’s international swansong but the wicketkeeper has given no indication of retiring anytime soon.
When asked if he would have picked Dhoni in the squad if he was available, chief selector MSK Prasad replied, “First of all he is not fit, so when he is fit and available, then we’ll see.”
The ambiguity of that statement will only add further fuel to the fire surrounding Dhoni’s future. With the veteran’s future plans still unclear, the situation remains in limbo and the selectors will be faced with the same difficult question a few months down the line.
India’s squads for the upcoming tour of West Indies were announced on Sunday with skipper Virat Kohli set to lead the side across all three formats.
All eyes were on MS Dhoni’s situation when the selectors met on Sunday and the veteran wicketkeeper was not included in either of the three squads after making himself ‘unavailable’ for the tour.
“He is unavailable for this series, he has expressed his unavailability,” chief selector MSK Prasad said.
“Having said that, we had a certain roadmap and plans till the World Cup.
“Post the World Cup, we have laid down a few more plans and we thought of giving opportunities to Rishabh Pant to see him being groomed. We did discuss things with Dhoni.”
With Dhoni unavailable, the selectors have handed Rishabh Pant the wicketkeeping gloves for the T20 and ODI series while Wriddhiman Saha will perform the role in the Test series.
Veteran Dinesh Karthik has failed to find a place in either the T20 or ODI side after his World Cup disaster while all-rounder Vijay Shankar has not been picked as well after failing to recover from his toe injury.
India’s squad for 2 Tests: Virat Kohli (Captain), Ajinkya Rahane (VC), Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, C Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant (WK) Wriddhiman Saha (WK), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav— BCCI (@BCCI) July 21, 2019
India’s squad for 3 ODIs: Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma (VC), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kedar Jadhav, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Navdeep Saini— BCCI (@BCCI) July 21, 2019
India’s squad for 3 T20Is: Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma (VC), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (WK), Krunal Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Rahul Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini— BCCI (@BCCI) July 21, 2019
The biggest omission in the Test squad was that of seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar with Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami and Ishant Sharma forming the pace battery alongside Bumrah.
Star all-rounder Hardik Pandya, meanwhile, will not travel to the West Indies after being handed a rest for the entire tour. Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah has been picked for the Test squad but rested for the ODI and T20 clashes.
Uncapped pacer Navdeep Saini and Mumbai Indians leg-spinner Rahul Chahar have been called up as well with the former finding a place in the ODI and T20 squads while the latter has been selected in the T20 squad.
Making a return to the ODI squad are Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey and Khaleel Ahmed while Washington Sundar and Deepak Chahar have been handed T20 call ups.
India are slated to play two Tests, three ODIs and as many T20s in their tour of the Caribbean which gets underway on August 3. The tour will begin with the T20 series with the first two clashes set to take place in at Lauderhill, Florida in the United States before the two teams return to the Caribbean for the remainder of the clashes.
India Test Squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), Ajinkya Rahane (vc), Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant (wk) Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav.
India ODI Squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kedar Jadhav, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Navdeep Saini.
India T20I squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (WK), Krunal Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Rahul Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini.
Former New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum had praised the Black Caps for the character they displayed after losing the 2019 ICC World Cup final to England on boundary count.
McCullum, who himself had faced heartbreak in the final with New Zealand in the 2015 edition, believes the poise with which Kane Williamson’s men handled the Lord’s defeat is commendable.
“Yes, it would’ve been lovely to have been a World Cup champion, but I’ve always said the game doesn’t define you but it’s the person and character you are,” McCullum told stuff.co.nz.
“I was so pleased with how our team handled that loss, also the success throughout that tournament.
“It’s a bit different but I thought they’ve handled themselves magnificently in the aftermath of that result (final).”
The 2019 World Cup final at Lord’s was one for the ages with the clash going down to the Super Over for the first time in the tournament’s history. The madness continued in the ensuing Super Over which also finished in a tie but it was the Kiwis who ended up on the losing side due to their inferior boundary count compared to England.
While many have questioned the decision to decide a World Cup trophy based on the two teams’ boundary count, McCullum believes the Kiwis will learn to live with the defeat with time.
“That’s the thing and it’s going to be so difficult for those guys,” said McCullum.
“I was lucky enough to be with them in the changing room and they were pretty broken, that’s for sure. They were also really proud of what they did and how well they played.
“Over the coming months and years, whilst it’s still raw now, they’ll understand just how magnificent that spectacle was. And for it to happen on the biggest of stages, to have played the hand that they played in that match is absolutely amazing.”