The India squad for the upcoming series with Australia has just been announced. In the announcement, there was the return of Rishabh Pant and KL Rahul to the 15-member squad. The Indian team will be playing a five-match ODI series to start with.However, in a surprise move, Dinesh Karthik has been axed from the squad for the series. In fact, this series will be India’s last ODI series before the 2019 World Cup kicks off.
According to MSK Prasad, chairman of selectors said, “We have included him [Pant] considering the fact that he is a left-hander and we are going to discuss with the team management. We will try and figure the best possible batting position for Pant. With a left-hander in the side, there is an advantage of left-right combination. We want to give Pant a few ODIs before taking a final call on World Cup.”
Other exclusions from the team are, Ravindra Jadeja, Khaleel Ahmed, Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj. All four players participated in the recent India tour of New Zealand. Indian pacer, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been selected for the Australia tie but will be sitting out of the first two games of the series.
“Siddarth Kaul has been doing very well in whatever opportunities has been given and also at India A level,” he said. “Khaleel has been playing for the last two series and we have seen him. We would like to see Siddarth Kaul also. We have shortlisted about 18 players and we are going to rotate among them.”
Karthik’s exclusion is rather odd since he was groomed to play the finisher’s role. The 33-year-old registered knocks of 38* (38), 25* (14), 12 (21) and 0(1) whenever he got the strike against Australia and New Zealand.
Pant, on the other hand, hasn’t had the same impact as yet in his brief three-match ODI career so far, totalling 41 runs. However, a breakthrough 2018 in Test cricket – which included centuries in England and Australia – has propelled his case, besides his reasonably good show in the New Zealand T20Is.
Meanwhile, since making his debut last year, Khaleel has picked up 11 wickets in 9 matches at an economy rate of 5.36. His variation as a left-arm pacer proved to his biggest asset. However, his inability to seal a spot in the limited chances to go with Mohammed Shami’s impressive showing in New Zealand has edged him out from the third pacer’s slot.
With Bumrah returning after sitting out the limited-overs assignment in Australia and New Zealand, India’s pace attack is almost near full strength. Bhuvneshwar will join the squad from the third ODI onwards with Sidharth Kaul filling in as a fast-bowling alternative for the first two games.
Jadeja’s axing means India have only two frontline spinners in the squad – Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal in the squad. Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar and Hardik Pandya will add to the balance of the side with their all-round abilities.
“Shankar’s performance in the recent series really changed a bit of dynamics and he brings a double impact to the side that’s why have we have included him. We’ll see how he performs in the next few matches,” he added.
“For the opening two ODIs, Virat Kohli will lead the side with Rohit Sharma as second in command. Others in the India team include Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni as the wicketkeeper, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Vijay Shankar, Rishabh Pant, Siddharth Kaul and KL Rahul.
For the other 3 ODIs, Kohli and Sharma will lead once again. While the team largely remains the same, the only difference is Kaul being swapped for Bhuvneshwar Kumar.While missing from the ODI team, Karthik has found a place in the T20 format. Other familiar faces are, Umesh Yadav, KL Rahul and Mayank Markande. Interestingly, this is Markande’s maiden international call-up. The promotion came on the back of several impressive performances for the India A squad. He even managed to scalp a five-fer over England.
Speaking of Markande’s inclusion, Prasad elaborated, “We are looking at Markande as a backup spinner. We have been grooming him though India A process and today also he picked up a five-wicket haul. So, we want to look at him and he’ll be a backup spinner.”