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India v Sri Lanka 2023

Pandya’s promotion, Pant’s mysterious absence – Takeaways from India’s white-ball squads for Sri Lanka

by Wisden Staff 6 minute read

India named their white-ball squads for the series against Sri Lanka, and, as usual, there were plenty of talking points.

With no press conference to clear up the doubts, the squads left everyone talking. Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul do not feature in the T20I squad. While the last two have probably been rested after playing the ODIs and Tests in Bangladesh, the selectors do not want to hurry Rohit after his thumb injury. Hardik Pandya will lead the side, with Suryakumar Yadav as his deputy.

However, Rohit, Rahul, and Kohli will all return for the ODIs, where Pandya has been named vice-captain.


India’s T20I squad: Hardik Pandya (c), Suryakumar Yadav (vc), Ishan Kishan (wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Deepak Hooda, Rahul Tripathi, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Arshdeep Singh, Harshal Patel, Umran Malik, Shivam Mavi, Mukesh Kumar.

India’s ODI squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Hardik Pandya (wk), KL Rahul (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik.

Is this the end of the road for Shikhar Dhawan?

Dhawan’s India journey might have come to a halt following the rise of youngsters Gill and Kishan. Dhawan made 688 runs in 22 games this year, but his strike rate of 74 – his lowest in a calendar year since 2011 – remained a bone of contention, and his inability to get going in the powerplay overs proved to be a hindrance.

The year also marked the arrival of Gill. Despite debuting in 2019, he played only three ODIs over the next two years. With the senior players shifting their focus to T20Is, Gill got a longer rope in 50-over matches, and he seized the opportunity. In 12 ODIs, he ended with 638 runs at an average of 70.88 and a strike rate nearing 103. A hundred and four fifties in different conditions made it tough to look past him. He was not picked for the ODIs against Bangladesh in December, but Dhawan’s poor run – he made 7, 8 and 3 – closed the doors on him.

Kishan’s double hundred against Bangladesh also threw up a left-handed option for India up the order, forcing the selectors to look past the stalwart.

Is Rishabh Pant dropped or rested?

Pant’s omission was arguably the biggest talking point from the two squads. Already en route to becoming a great in Test cricket, he has not been able to set the ODI and T20I formats on fire, with averages of 34.60 and 22.43 (strike rate of 126) respectively. However, he has shown signs of improvement in ODIs of late: since 2021, he averages 44.63 with a strike rate of 109.

He has struggled in the shortest format, where his ouster was not unexpected. However, his omission from the ODIs has been a talking point. Reports of a knee niggle have emerged, but there has been no official word on that. ESPNCricinfo has reported that he has been sent to the NCA for strength and conditioning after playing 44 international matches in 2022, in a bid to keep him fresh for the Australia Tests.

KL Rahul demoted, Hardik Pandya promoted

Rahul, India’s vice-captain, did not have a great year in any format. He started the year by leading India to defeats in a Test match and three ODIs in South Africa. He did manage to win the Test series against Bangladesh in Rohit’s absence, but his captaincy was under the scanner, as he set defensive fields and allowed the hosts to come within touching distance of a win.

With the bat, Rahul had a forgettable year. He averaged 17.12 in Tests with a high score of 50, made 251 runs in 10 ODIs at 27.88, and was a disappointment in T20Is as well, where his strike rate of 127 repeatedly hurt India, especially in the T20 World Cup.

Pandya’s stocks increased at the same time. After a back injury hindered his bowling, he staged a successful comeback to emerge as India’s go-to man in pressure situations. He also gave glimpses of his leadership abilities when he led tournament debutant Gujarat Titans to the IPL title.

India’s struggles under Rohit and Rahul, along with Pandya’s form, made the latter a strong captaincy candidate. His mature knocks against Pakistan in the Asia Cup and the T20 World Cup threw up an option the team never thought they had.

Surprise call-ups to Shivam Mavi and Mukesh Kumar

Mavi and Mukesh have got maiden T20I call-ups, with Deepak Chahar and Jasprit Bumrah still struggling with injuries and Bhuvneshwar Kumar overlooked. Mavi, a genuinely quick bowler, first came to the limelight for India in the 2018 Under-19 World Cup, where he cemented his place as an opening bowler. He picked up nine wickets at an average of 18.88, and was bought by Kolkata Knight Riders during that year’s auction.

Mavi has picked up 46 wickets from 46 T20 games, but his economy rate of 8.27 has been a concern. In the IPL, he often started off well before going for plenty at the death –which remains a concern for India. At the same time, his presence alongside Umran Malik indicates India’s inclination to back express pace.

Mukesh has an economy rate of 7.20 but is coming on the back of an indifferent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. In six games, he picked up six scalps, but was Bengal’s third-most expensive bowler through the edition. He has been impressive in First-class cricket, picking up 123 wickets at 21.49: it is his stronger format.

Where are Ravi Bishnoi and Sanju Samson?

Bishnoi stood out during his spell of 1-26 as India lost to Pakistan in the Asia Cup, but he has not played a game since. In 10 T20Is, he has 16 T20I scalps at 17.12 while going at 7.08 an over – in other words, he has done little wrong. Initially selected as standby in the T20 World Cup squad, he eventually did not travel to Australia, and was also not considered for the subsequent tours of New Zealand and Bangladesh.

Samson’s remains a frustrating case as always. He has been picked in the T20I team, but is absent from ODIs, despite averaging 71 in 2022 with a strike rate of 106. This year, he was unbeaten five times, seeing India through more often than not, but that has clearly not been enough to please the people who matter.

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