Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant has been omitted from India’s ODI and T20I squads for the upcoming Australia tour. Rohit Sharma, India’s white-ball vice-captain, who is currently nursing a hamstring injury in the IPL in the UAE, isn’t part of both the squads as well.
Tamil Nadu and Kolkata Knight Riders mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy earned his maiden national call-up on the back of his stellar performances in the ongoing IPL. Varun is the only player with a five-wicket haul so far this season, and in all he is the highest wicket-taker for the Knight Riders with 12 strikes at an excellent economy rate of 7.05.
India’s premier allrounder Hardik Pandya is set to play his first limited-overs international since September 2019. Pandya has undergone a back surgery surge and he returned to action in the IPL though he hasn’t bowled yet this season. According to Zaheer Khan, Mumbai Indians’ director of cricket operations, Pandya was “very keen” to bowl, but the team management has adopted a cautious approach, using him as a specialist batsman.
In the absence of Sharma, KL Rahul, who is captaining Kings XI Punjab, has been named Virat Kohli’s deputy in both the white-ball squads. Rahul is the only wicketkeeper in the ODI squad while India have another wicketkeeping option in Sanju Samson for the T20Is.
Varun, who had turned 29 just before IPL 2020 just August, played only 11 T20s before Monday. However, he has seven variations in his repertoire, and his victims in the IPL include David Warner, MS Dhoni, Pant, and Shreyas Iyer. Varun had also been the second-highest wicket-taker in the 2018-19 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy, with 22 scalps in nine matches at an economy rate of 4.23. However, a finger injury, sustained during his maiden IPL stint with the Kings XI Punjab in 2019, forced him out of action for more than a year.
Despite not playing any competitive cricket for a year, Dinesh Karthik, the former Knight Riders captain and the current Tamil Nadu white-ball captain, punted on him, with the Knight Riders shelling out INR 4 crore (USD 563,000 approx.) to get him on board. Varun has rewarded their faith, stepping up when Sunil Narine was placed on the IPL warning list, before his action was subsequently cleared. Varun’s Knight Riders team-mate Kuldeep Yadav was left out of the T20I squad, but was part of the ODI squad.
Ravindra Jadeja, who was the Chennai Super Kings’ finisher with the bat but struggled with the ball, was picked in both the white-ball squads over Axar Patel. Axar’s economy rate of 5.78 is the third best among bowlers who have bowled at least 25 overs this IPL. Under this condition, only Rashid Khan and Washington Sundar, who features in the T20I squad, have better economy rates.
T20I squad: Virat Kohli (capt.), Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul (vice-captain & wk), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Sanju Samson (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Varun Chakravarthy
ODI squad: Virat Kohli (capt.), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul (vice-capt & wk), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur
More to follow…