The Indian team management and the selection committee have decided continue with Rishabh Pant as wicketkeeper across formats. After a rushed selection meeting for the upcoming three T20Is against South Africa at home, Pant was named as the solitary wicketkeeper in the 15-member squad. MS Dhoni, who had asked for a sabbatical of two months post the World Cup in England in July, has not been considered.
Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah has been rested while Bhuvneshwar Kumar has not been selected as he is ‘unavailable.’ Wrist-spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have also been excluded so that other spin options can be tried out ahead of next year’s World T20. Allrounder Hardik Pandya, meanwhile, comes back into the team after the World Cup.
“The team management and the selection committee are on the same page about Pant. They want to give him ample opportunities to groom him for the upcoming big ICC events. It’s clearly the time to move forward,” a source said. “Bhuvneshwar has not been given rest. It is claimed that he is unavailable because he is unwell,” the source added. Bhuvneshwar was not picked for the ongoing Test series in West Indies too. According to sources, the focus of the selection committee is on the two World T20s in the next two years. “The selectors want to get a core of T20I players ready as soon as possible for the World T20 in Australia in November 2020. That’s why Pant has to be given as many opportunities to prove himself and the selectors are also looking for backup wicketkeepers like Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson. Andhra’s KS Bharat is being seen as a red-ball option. Same goes for the spinners,” the source said.
Kuldeep and Chahal’s recent T20 performances, including in the last IPL, have also not been very impressive. Their lack of ability with the bat and agility in the field is also a point of deliberation. Ravindra Jadeja fits the bill in this regard and Rahul Chahar is being seen as a good prospect.
The squad: Virat Kohli (Capt), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (WK), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, Rahul Chahar, Khaleel Ahmed, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini.
Schedule: First T20I: Sept 15 at Dharamsala; Second T20I: Sept 18 at Mohali; Third T20I: Bengaluru on Sept 22.