Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni have been rested from the Nidahas Trophy, a T20I tri-nation series in Sri Lanka in March, also involving Bangladesh. Rohit Sharma was named stand-in captain of India’s 15-man squad, with Shikhar Dhawan his deputy.
India also rested several other limited-overs regulars in fast bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, wristspinner Kuldeep Yadav and allrounder Hardik Pandya. Kuldeep had missed the three T20Is in South Africa with an injury.
The five new inclusions in the squad were wicketkeeper Rishbah Pant, allrounders Vijay Shankar and Washington Sundar, batsman Deepak Hooda and fast bowler Mohammad Siraj.
In – Washington Sundar, Vijay Shankar, Mohammad Siraj, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant
“We’ve kept in mind the workload and upcoming schedule while finalising the team for Nidahas Trophy,” chairman of selectors MSK Prasad said. “The high-performance team has suggested that adequate rest should be given to our fast bowlers to help improve athletic performance, maximise rest and prevent injury. MS Dhoni was not available for selection as he had requested for rest.”
India have only just finished their first tour of a long away season. Some of the rested players had extremely heavy workloads in South Africa. Pandya played every game on the tour – three Tests, six ODIs and three T20Is – while Kohli and Bumrah missed only one T20I each. India’s next tour is in July, when they travel to England, but their players will play the IPL in April and May, and a home Test against Afghanistan in June.
Pant returned to the side after enjoying success in India’s domestic limited-overs tournaments. He was joint top-scorer during Delhi’s title-winning campaign in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament – in January, he smashed the second fastest T20 hundred – and made a 93-ball 135 against Himachal Pradesh in the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy. Pant had last played for India in July 2017, when he made a laboured 38 against West Indies.
Baroda’s Hooda and Tamil Nadu’s Shankar have been regulars in India A teams over the last few years. Hooda was among the top-scorers in the Vijay Hazare Trophy this season, making 352 runs at 50.28, while Shankar is fresh off scores of 84 and 100. Both Hooda and Shankar have been part of India squads in the past, but neither of them is capped. Sundar and Siraj were both part of India’s team for the limited-overs games against Sri Lanka just before the South Africa tour. Siraj has had particularly good form since, picking up three five-wicket hauls in seven 50-over matches for Hyderabad and topping the bowling charts with 23 wickets.
The tri-nation series involves Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and begins on March 6. Each team will play the other twice, before the final on March 18.
Squad Rohit Sharma (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Vijay Shankar, Shardul Thakur, Jaydev Unadkat, Mohammad Siraj, Rishabh Pant