The selectors were at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) where newly-appointed full-time white-ball captain Rohit Sharma was due to take a fitness test. Upon passing the test, Rohit went into the meeting to pick the squad for the T20I and ODI series.
Rohit Sharma also made a comeback after missing the Test and ODI series against South Africa due to a hamstring injury.
“Pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami have been rested from the series while KL Rahul will be available from the 2nd ODI onwards. Ravindra Jadeja is undergoing his final stage of recovery post his knee injury and will not be available for the ODIs and T20Is. Axar Patel will be available for the T20Is,” stated a BCCI release.
Going back to the left-arm wrist spin of Kuldeep is an indication that the selectors are eager to revert to the wrist-spin dominant attack. Kuldeep was falling out of favour before he sustained a serious knee injury just ahead of the second leg of the IPL in UAE last September. Kuldeep has not played a single competitive match since his recovery. He was, however, named the captain of Uttar Pradesh’s Ranji Trophy team.
As for Bishnoi, who predominantly bowls googlies, the selectors and team management are very excited about his temperament and his ever-aggressive approach to bowling.
India’s head coach Rahul Dravid rued the inability of his bowlers to pick up wickets in the middle-overs during the recent 3-0 loss in the ODI series in South Africa. Former ODI captain Virat Kohli had backed Kuldeep and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal to pick up extra wickets in the middle. Kuldeep’s experience won the confidence of the selectors. Off-spinner Washington Sundar will complete the spin attack.
The six-match series against the West Indies will feature three ODIs starting in Ahmedabad from February 6 and followed by as many T20Is in Kolkata.
Due to Covid-19 protocols, the BCCI has curtailed the number of venues from six cities to two.
Bhuvi dropped from ODIs, gets T20 lifeline
Senior medium-pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been dropped from the ODI team. He has been retained for the T20Is. Bhuvneshwar has been far from his best since making a comeback from injury last year. He was particularly listless in South Africa. The selectors and team management felt that such a senior player should get a few more opportunities to prove his worth. However, it is obvious that he is running against time.
ODI squad: Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (Vice-captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Surya Kumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohd. Siraj, Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan
T20I squad: Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (Vice-captain), Ishan Kishan, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Surya Kumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Venkatesh Iyer, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Ravi Bishnoi, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Washington Sundar, Mohd. Siraj, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Avesh Khan, Harshal Patel.
Ashwin in danger of missing home season
Ashwin, who was drafted back into ODI and T20I teams, has suffered serious injuries to his wrist and ankle. TOI has learnt that he sustained the injuries while fielding in the ODI series in South Africa. Ashwin twisted his ankle and fell on his wrist. He is being monitored. The seriousness of the injury is yet to be determined but it is learnt that rushing him back could aggravate his injuries.
Not convinced with Hardik yet
TOI has learned that the selectors are not yet convinced with Hardik Pandya’s ability to bowl at full tilt. The allrounder was dropped after the T20 World Cup where he wasn’t ready to bowl. Hardik has been working hard on regaining bowling fitness. The selectors spoke to Hardik on Wednesday and it was decided that he has to prove his fitness by bowling in competitive matches first before being considered for selection. It’s now likely Hardik will only bowl during the IPL. Till then, the team management will keep grooming Venkatesh Iyer.