Kohli rested, Rohit to lead, Ashwin and Rahul return

Wednesday 20th July 2022 08:17 EDT

Captain Rohit Sharma will be back to lead India in the five-match T20I series against the West Indies starting July 29, but the biggest takeaway from the BCCI's squad announcement is the absence of Virat Kohli. Struggling for form, Kohli is believed to have once again been offered rest ahead of the all-important Asia Cup starting in August.

The squad also marks the return of KL Rahul, who has been out of action since suffering a groin injury, albeit his inclusion is subject to fitness. Also returning to the T20I set-up is off-spinner R Ashwin, who last played a T20 international against New Zealand in November of 2021.

The likes of Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik, all three of whom did not feature in the ODI squad will be back for the T20Is. Young pace sensation Umran Malik though did not find a place in the 18-member squad but the management has decided to stick with young left-arm quick Arshdeep Singh, who recently made his India debut against England in the opening T20I and picked up two wickets. Along with Ashwin, another spinner that had made his way back into the squad in Kuldeep Yadav, who last played for Delhi Capitals in the IPL.

As for Kohli, the release did not mention the reason behind his absence but it is believed that the decision was taken after the former India captain had asked for a break. This is the second time in two months that Kohli has been offered rest, as straight after the IPL, he did not feature in the home T20I series between India and South Africa.

Kohli toured England, where he played the Leicestershire warm-up, the rescheduled Birmingham Test and two of the three T20Is. Kohli's name missing from the squad could also have to do with his groin injury that forced him to miss the 1st ODI vs England and possibly the remaining two as well. Besides Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah is the other notable exclusion.

With Rahul back, and provided he is fit of course, the Indian team will once again witness stiff competition for the opening slot. While Rohit is a no-brainer, the fight to be his partner will be between Rahul, Ishan and Hooda. Ishan had scored a couple of brilliant half-centuries against South Africa while earlier this month, Hooda became only the fourth India batter to score a 100 in T20Is, when his swashbuckling century floored Ireland in the second T20I.

Suryakumar Yadav – who recently played the single-most entertaining innings in a long in international cricket – Shreyas Iyer, Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Pandya and Karthik form a formidable middle-order, one that would like to get a decent hit out as India continue to figure their ideal composition for the T20 World Cup. Ashwin will shore up the spin department that besides Kuldeep, stars Ravi Bishnoi, Axar Patel and Jadeja. Yuzvendra Chahal, who has rediscovered his mojo too has probably been rested to give India the option of trying out other spin combinations. And while Bumrah will not tour the Caribbean, the fast bowling seems to be in good hands in the presence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel and youngsters Avesh Khan and Arshdeep.

India's T20I squad vs West Indies: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Ishan Kishan, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravi Bishnoi, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Avesh Khan, Harshal Patel, Arshdeep Singh.

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