In what is being seen as the beginning of a new era in India’s T20 cricket, Rohit Sharma has expectedly been named captain for the three-match series against New Zealand. KL Rahul will be his deputy.
Rohit will take over from Virat Kohli, who decided to relinquish the captaincy after the T20 World Cup. Newly-appointed head coach Rahul Dravid will also begin his two-year stint in Jaipur, where the opening T20I will be played on November 17.
The other two matches are in Ranchi (November 19) and Calcutta (November 21). Rohit and Dravid linked up with the five national selectors from Dubai and Bangalore, respectively, to pick the 16-member squad on Tuesday evening. The squad is without several first-XI players, including Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami. While there has been no formal communication from the Board, it is understood that all have been given a break.
It is almost certain that Rohit will be asked to lead in the ODIs as well with the announcement to be made public when the selectors pick the white-ball squad for the series in South Africa.
Rahane led successfully in Australia and ignoring his credentials on the basis of one series will be unfair. There has been no decision on who will be captain in the first Test if Virat isn’t available. The choice is between Rahane and Rohit,” a source told The Telegraph.
That the winds of change are blowing was clear in the manner in which the selectors decided to crack the whip on non-performers from the T20 World Cup squad.
Hardik Pandya’s dismal performance hasn’t gone unnoticed and his fitness was discussed during the hour-long meeting. It will be tough for Kohli’s trusted “finisher at No.6” to make a comeback even during the limited-overs series in South Africa unless he proves himself in the domestic circuit.
Kolkata Knight Riders’ Venkatesh Iyer is being seen as a possible replacement for Pandya. The all-rounder did extremely well in the second leg of the IPL and played a significant role in the Knights’ run to the final.
Besides Iyer, the others who made the squad on the basis of their IPL showing were opener Ruturaj Gaikwad (Chennai Super Kings), highest wicket-taker Harshal Patel (Royal Challengers Bangalore) and pacer Avesh Khan (Delhi Capitals).
Ruturaj, who was the leading run-getter in the IPL opening the innings for the Super Kings, made his T20I debut in Sri Lanka in July. While Yuzvendra Chahal has made a comeback following his strong performance in the IPL, Rahul Chahar has been dropped.
It effectively means an admission of a mistake by the selectors as the young leg-spinner was woefully out of sorts in the IPL and also in the lone match he turned out for India in the UAE.
Varun Chakravarthy’s bowling, too, failed to impress the selectors. The mystery spinner, who too is from the Knight Riders camp, played three matches in Dubai. Also missing from the side is Shardul Thakur.
Shreyas Iyer, who was part of the reserves in the T20 World Cup following shoulder surgery, is back along with left-arm spinner Axar Patel, who was originally a part of the World Cup squad but was replaced at the last minute by Thakur
There is talk that Kohli has requested to be rested for the first Test against New Zealand in Kanpur. Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane is the logical choice to take over as captain but his poor form in England is an issue