Their stellar performances in the Indian Premier League (IPL) have earned Tilak Varma and Yashasvi Jaiswal a maiden call-up to India’s T20I squad for the five-match T20I series against West Indies.
In his first meeting after taking over as the chairman of the senior national selection committee, Ajit Agarkar - along with his four other colleagues - decided to bring in batters who could go hammer and tongs from the word go, and the inclusion of the two left-handed rookies is enough of an indication to that policy.
The Mumbai-based Jaiswal, who recently made it to India’s Test squad, stamped his class in the IPL, amassing 625 runs, with five fifties and a century for Rajasthan Royals. The youngster made the most of the PowerPlay and scored big runs in the first couple of overs, while the Hyderabad-based Varma has been a dependable middle-order batter for Mumbai Indians, amassing 343 runs in the last IPL, at an average of close to 43, and it seems that keeping the evolving nature of the shorter format in mind, the Agarkar-led selection panel has decided to change India’s approach in T20Is.
While Hardik Pandya will continue to lead the side in the five fixtures that will be played in Trinidad and Guyana, before the caravan moves to Florida, Suryakumar Yadav will be his deputy.
The selectors have brought back Ravi Bishnoi and Sanju Samson into the side, whereas seven members of India’s last T20I - against New Zealand in February this year - have missed out. The likes of Jitesh Sharma and Ruturaj Gaikwad have missed out despite proving their class in the shorter format, especially in the IPL. Prithvi Shaw, Rahul Tripathi, Deepak Hooda and Washington Sundar are the other five players from that side who have been sidelined.
Despite speculations that his stellar show in the IPL could earn him a berth in the T20I team, Rinku Singh does not feature in the list. While there’s a buzz that he may be considered for the Asian Games squad and maybe for the series against Ireland, the Uttar Pradesh batter, who had an IPL season to remember for Kolkata Knight Riders, will have to wait longer for his turn.
However, after running out of favour since September last year, leg-spinner Bishnoi returned to the squad to bolster the spin department along with the seasoned Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal and Axar Patel, who returns to the squad after missing out on the New Zealand series due to personal reasons.
The Jodhpur-based Bishnoi has featured in 10 T20Is and a solitary ODI for India so far, but he missed out on a T20 World Cup berth last year. However, he proved his mettle in the IPL with Lucknow Super Giants, claiming 16 wickets, which paved the way for his return.
In the fast bowling department, too, Avesh Khan returned to the side, having last played a T20I for India in last year’s Asia Cup. And in the conditions of the Caribbean, the pace battery, comprising Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik, Avesh and Mukesh Kumar, will be hoping to reap the benefits.
Though senior campaigners Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli - who haven’t played T20Is since India’s semifinal exit in the T20 World Cup last year - aren’t part of the set-up, the young team has enough firepower.
INDIA T20I SQUAD
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