Hardik Pandya’s selection and MS Dhoni’s exclusion were the highlights of the 15-man squad that the BCCI named on Thursday for the India vs South Africa T20Is series coming up this September.
Squad: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, Rahul Chahar, Khaleel Ahmed, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini
The return (India vs South Africa)
The 25-year old all-rounder last played the iconic World Cup semi-final against New Zealand which India lost by 18-runs. Following their exit, the BCCI opted against playing him in the tour to the West Indies. Supposedly, Hardik had picked up a minor niggle at some late stage of the tournament. The BCCI wanted him to recover completely before playing him in any of the games.
His presence in the squad becomes monumentally important, especially with the absence of the front line pacers. The BCCI has decided to rest Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who’ve both played at some point in the West Indies tour. Hardik will provide an extra option to the pace troika of Khaleel Ahmed, Navdeep Saini and Deepak Chahar. The three pacers have played a combined 16 T20I games between them, hence Hardik’s experience will come in quite handy.
Pacers aside, India will have the luxury of choosing from as many as four spin-options. Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar and Krunal Pandya have all been chosen for their all-round batting abilities. Leggie Rahul Chahar, who is also Deepak Chahar’s cousin, will play as the primary wrist spinner in the side.
Dhoni ignored once again
Meanwhile, MS Dhoni continues to be absent from the squad, further re-affirming BCCI’s decision to ‘move forward’. Rishabh Pant will play as the first choice wicket-keeper with KL Rahul as the back-up option.
No performers from Windies A series
Many fans had expected to see Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan in the team, especially after their performances against Windies A. Karnataka all-rounder Krishnappa Gowtham too had made a strong case for himself with a record 8-wicket bowling spell at the KPL. It seems they’ll have to wait a little longer before the BCCI considers them for selection.
How excited are you to find Hardik Pandya back in the team? Do you think MS Dhoni has already played his last game for India? Should the BCCI have selected Gill, Kishan and Gowtham? Tell us in the comments how you feel about the team selection.