Dhoni, Kohli rested for T20 tri-series

Rohit Sharma has been chosen as captain in a 15-man squad announced by the BCCI.

India has won all four Twenty20s that Rohit Sharma has captained.   -  AP

That Virat Kohli will now be seen on a cricket field straight during the Indian Premier League (IPL) was all but certain the moment he pulled out of the deciding T20I in Cape Town on Saturday due to a “stiff lower back”. It was confirmed on Sunday when the national selection panel announced India's squad for the Nidahas Trophy, Twenty20 tri-series against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to be played in Sri Lanka from March 6 to 18.

Besides the captain, M. S. K. Prasad's panel also did not include five key players in India's first-choice white-ball cricket Xis, including veteran M. S. Dhoni, all-rounder Hardik Pandya, pace duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah and left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav.

“We’ve kept in mind the workload and upcoming schedule while finalizing the team for Nidahas Trophy. The high-performance team has suggested that adequate rest should be given to our fast bowlers to help improve athletic performance, maximize rest and prevent injury,” Prasad said in a statement. “Mr. M.S. Dhoni was not available for selection as he had requested for rest,” he added.

Sportstar understands that the decision to rest Kohli, Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar and Pandya was made even before the T20 leg of the long tour to South Africa had started. That Dhoni made himself unavailable resulted in the selectors deciding to hand over the wicket-keeping responsibilities to another old guard Dinesh Karthik.

Yadav injured

While the selectors haven't made the reasons official, it is also understood that chinaman Yadav is still recuperating from a right palm injury he suffered during the limited overs leg in South Africa. Since Yadav was not going to recover in time for the series that will feature all three teams playing each other twice before the final, the selectors looked for options in off-spinning all-rounders Washington Sundar and Deepak Hooda.

Kohli's absence will mean Rohit Sharma, the white-ball vice-captain who has captained the team in Kohli's absence in four T20Is over the last couple of months,  will continue to lead the team. Left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan has been announced as Sharma's deputy.

Since all the six players who have been excluded were in India's T20 squad for the series in South Africa, the selectors have brought in five new faces for the Sri Lanka series, thus trimming the squad size to 15. The replacements include Sundar, Hooda, Tamil Nadu all-rounder Vijay Shankar, Hyderabad pacer Mohammad Siraj and Delhi's attacking batsman-wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant.

Barring Hooda and Shankar, the other promising players have all earned India caps over the last year.

The fixtures: March 6: Sri Lanka vs India; March 8: India vs Bangladesh; March 10: Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh; March 12: Sri Lanka vs India; March 14: India vs Bangladesh; March 16: Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh; March 18: Final.
All matches in Colombo

Squad
  • India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, K. L. Rahul, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Vijay Shankar, Shardul Thakur, Jaydev Unadkat, Mohammad Siraj, Rishabh Pant (wk).