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Monday, May 23, 2022

India vs West Indies series squad selection: Wrist spinners back in business

🔴 Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav, leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi to complement Yuzvendra Chahal in ODIs; No place for Ashwin in shorter formats.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty |
Updated: January 30, 2022 2:58:19 pm
India vs West Indies series squad selection: Wrist spinners back in businessIt is learnt that the selection meeting on Wednesday was lengthy, the Chetan Sharma-led committee dissecting India’s 3-0 ODI series loss in South Africa and discussing the way forward. (File)

India’s limited-overs squad selection for the upcoming home assignments against the West Indies marked the return of an old template, wrist-spin taking centre-stage again. After a long hiatus, Kuldeep Yadav is back to the 50-over fold to pair up with Yuzvendra Chahal, while Ravichandran Ashwin hasn’t been included either in the ODI squad or for the T20Is. India will play three ODIs and as many T20Is against the West Indies, in Ahmedabad and Kolkata respectively, starting from February 6. Rohit Sharma has recovered from his hamstring injury to lead India in the series.

Ashwin was brought back to the white-ball fold before the T20 World Cup last year. Then, he was picked for the ODI series in South Africa as well. There have been talks about the senior off-spinner being ruled out due to an injury. But the BCCI press release didn’t mention anything, although it confirmed that “Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami have been rested” and Ravindra Jadeja has been “undergoing his final stage of recovery post his knee injury”.

It is learnt that the selection meeting on Wednesday was lengthy, the Chetan Sharma-led committee dissecting India’s 3-0 ODI series loss in South Africa and discussing the way forward. Both head coach Rahul Dravid and stand-in skipper for the South Africa series KL Rahul had spoken about a few changes going ahead and eventually, the selection committee decided to fall back on the wrist-spin pair that had contributed to India’s white-ball recovery after the 2017 Champions Trophy.

Kuldeep underwent knee surgery in September last year and post his recovery, the selectors asked him to play a few practice matches in Gurgaon. It’s not known if anyone from the selection committee tracked him there, but the fit-again chinaman bowler has been brought back to ODI squad. Kuldeep last played for India in Sri Lanka in July last year before going under the surgeon’s knife.

That another leg-spinner, Ravi Bishnoi, has earned his maiden India call-up suggested that the selectors and the team management have seen wrist-spin as a wicket-taking option in the middle-overs, an area that needed serious shoring up after the failed T20 World Cup campaign and a 3-0 hiding to the Proteas.
Bishnoi, the 21-year-old from Rajasthan, has made the cut by dint of his performance for the Punjab franchise in the IPL.

Sundar back in the fold

After the South Africa series, Dravid had spoken about the right balance and all-round options. From that perspective, Washington Sundar’s return is good news for the team.

He was India’s first-choice off-spinner in the shortest format until he suffered a hand injury that had put paid to his T20 World Cup hopes. Then, the young all-rounder tested positive for Covid and was ruled out of the ODI series in South Africa. Washington was former India captain Virat Kohli’s trusted option to bowl in the Powerplays and his ability to score quickly down the order contributed to the team’s balance. Ashwin was brought back to the white-ball set-up after Washington had suffered the injury.

“Some of the guys who really help us balance the squad out and give us the all-round options at 6,7, 8 are probably not here, not available for selection. So, hopefully when they get back, they will probably give us the depth to play in a slightly different style,” Dravid had said after the South Africa series.

Accordingly, another spin-bowling all-rounder, Deepak Hooda, has made the ODI cut for the first time.
Hooda bowls flatish off-spin and has the ability to go ballistic with the bat. Until Hardik Pandya is fit, the team will have to mix and match with the likes of Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Washington, Hooda and Axar Patel – “will be available for the T20Is” – for all-round options.

Venkatesh Iyer has been dropped from the ODI squad and it is learnt that for the time being, the selectors would consider him for the T20Is only. Excellent performance for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL last year saw Iyer’s meteoric rise, but he didn’t impress with his game awareness, especially in the ODIs in South Africa. After the series, Dravid didn’t single out anybody but mentioned the game awareness issue.

“South Africa, who batted first on two occasions, only scored 290 and 280. At the 30th over in both those games, I felt we should have chased them down. We didn’t because we played some poor shots and we didn’t play smart cricket in critical situations.”

It is also learnt that the phasing out of Bhuvneshwar Kumar has begun. He has been picked only for the T20Is. As regards to batting, with Rohit coming back, Kohli available for the home series and Rahul – “will be available from the 2nd ODI onwards” – dropping down the order in the ODIs, an improvement is expected.

ODI squad: Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (Vice-captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Surya Kumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohd. Siraj, Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan

T20I squad: Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (Vice-captain), Ishan Kishan, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Surya Kumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Venkatesh Iyer, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Ravi Bishnoi, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Washington Sundar, Mohd. Siraj, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Avesh Khan, Harshal Patel.

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