Former captain MS Dhoni will soon be back in the Team India dugout - this time, as a mentor for the T20 World Cup. Dhoni’s inclusion took some of its own office-bearers by surprise, and even the selectors came to know about it just minutes before the press conference to announce the squad for the October-November tournament in the UAE.
Sources said India’s dismal white-ball record in ICC events under captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri is one of the key factors behind the decision. The team has either fallen at the final hurdle or failed to make it to the final in the Champions Trophy, and World T20 and 50-over World Cups. Kohli hasn’t even led Royal Challengers Bangalore to an IPL title. Dhoni, who leads Chennai Super Kings, is a three-time IPL-winning captain and has brought home three major ICC trophies - World T20, Champions Trophy and World Cup
At the media briefing Wednesday, BCCI Secretary Jay Shah said the decision to call up the 40-year-old retired international and the country’s most-celebrated white-ball cricketer was taken after he met Dhoni in Dubai, where IPL teams have started converging to complete the unfinished Covid-hit Season 12.
In another important development, Ravichandran Ashwin, who has been in the news lately for not being part of the Test matches in England, has been picked up for the T20 squad. Chief selector Chetan Sharma pointed out that a bowler like Ashwin would be highly useful in UAE conditions, has done well in the IPL and, further bearing in mind that the young Washington Sundar happens to be nursing an injury, will add immensely to the balance of the squad.
Bowling allrounder Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who played the recent whiteball series in Sri Lanka under Rahul Dravid’s coaching, has also been picked in the squad. Among the notable absentees is opener Shikhar Dhawan who, despite being the top-scorer in IPL 2020 and phase-1 of IPL 2021, has been left out. Leg-spinner Yazuvendra Chahal, who did well in the 2020 edition of the IPL and has been a constant in Team India’s white-ball plans, has also been left out.
Among some other surprising decisions, the selectors chose to put talented middle-order batsman Shreyas Iyer – who’s just returned from an injury break – in the standbys alongside allrounder Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar. These aspects aside, the rest of the team has picked itself.
Here's the full list of India's 15-member squad:
1) Virat Kohli (Captain)- Matches: 90 | Runs: 3,159 | Strike-rate: 139.04
2) Rohit Sharma (Vice-Captain)- Matches: 111 | Runs: 2,864 | Strike-rate: 138.96
3) KL Rahul- Matches: 49 | Runs: 1,557 | Strike-rate: 142.19
4) Suryakumar Yadav- Matches: 4 | Runs: 139 | Strike-rate: 169.51
5) Rishabh Pant (Wicketkeeper)- Matches: 33 | Runs: 512 | Strike-rate: 123.07
6) Ishan Kishan (Wicketkeeper)- Matches: 3 | Runs: 180 | Strike-rate: 145.45
7) Hardik Pandya- Matches: 49 | Runs: 484 | Wickets: 42
8) Ravindra Jadeja- Matches: 50 | Runs: 217 | Wickets: 39
9) Rahul Chahar- Matches: 5 | Wickets: 7 | Economy Rate: 7.61
10) Ravichandran Ashwin- Matches: 46 | Runs: 123 | Wickets: 52
11) Axar Patel- Matches: 12 | Wickets: 9 | Economy Rate: 6.88
12) Varun Chakravarthy- Matches: 3 | Wickets: 2 | Economy Rate: 5.30
13) Jasprit Bumrah- Matches: 50 | Wickets: 59 | Economy Rate: 6.66
14) Bhuvneshwar Kumar- Matches: 51| Wickets: 50 | Economy Rate: 6.90
15) Mohammed Shami- Matches: 12 | Wickets: 12 | Economy Rate: 9.80