India’s squad for the three T20Is against New Zealand at home was announced by the BCCI on Tuesday. The series gets underway on November 17 and the Indian contingent is without several of their first-choice players. It was already being anticipated that certain players will be rested after a long season and extended time in the bio-secure bubble. However, it was not clear whether Hardik had been rested or dropped due to a dip in his form.
It is now being learned that the Mumbai Indians star has been left out due to fitness concerns as well as his lack of runs. Pandya has been struggling with a back injury for quite some time now which has not allowed him to bowl on a consistent basis. Even in the T20 World Cup, he bowled on just two occasions out of the five matches and his fitness was constantly being questioned throughout the world event where India failed to go past the Super 12 round.
Meanwhile, Hardik has been advised to go back to domestic cricket to prove his form and fitness so that he could make a case for himself for a place in the national team.
“Hardik will have to prove his form and fitness to be considered for the selections. Pandya purely as batsman doesn’t fit into our scheme of things. He will be asked to play domestic cricket, go through the rigour if he has to make a comeback to the squad,” a BCCI selector was quoted by Inside Sport.
Rohit Sharma named captain, KL Rahul his deputy
The squad announced is majorly around expected lines with Rohit Sharma named as the captain of the Men in Blue after Virat had already announced his decision to step down as the leader in T20Is post the World Cup. KL Rahul has been named his deputy. Virat along with Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami have been rested.
Several uncapped players receive India call up
Meanwhile, Shardul Thakur, Rahul Chahar and Varun Chakravarthy, who were part of India’s World Cup campaign, are absent from the 16-member squad for the New Zealand series. In their absence, several uncapped players have received an India call-up with an eye on the 2022 and 2023 World Cups in T20 and 50-Overs respectively. Venkatesh Iyer, Harshal Patel and Avesh Khan will be part of that India dressing room while Ruturaj Gaikwad who ended IPL 2021 as the leading run-scorer has also been named in the team.
The series is also set to be the first assignment for head coach Rahul Dravid. While he had accompanied a second-string side led by Shikhar Dhawan in Sri Lanka, this is the first time he will be the coach post the end of Ravi Shastri era and he will have the entire squad at his disposal.
Rohit Sharma too will begin a new journey and would look to end the team’s drought of ICC trophies in recent years.
India squad for New Zealand T20Is: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul (vc), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Venkatesh Iyer, Yuzvendra Chahal, R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Avesh Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Harshal Patel, Mohammed Siraj