India have announced a 20-member squad for the upcoming T20I and ODI series against Sri Lanka that will be played in Colombo from July 13.
With the main team in England, the white-ball side will be led by Shikhar Dhawan, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar appointed as his deputy.
The squad sees as many as six uncapped players selected — Devdutt Padikkal, Chetan Sakariya, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Nitish Rana, Krishnappa Gowtham and Varun Chakravarthy. Chakravarthy has been in squads of late but the other five players received their maiden international call-ups.
Here’s all you need to know about the six players, with each ranked by how likely their call-up is.
Surprise quotient: 0.5 out of 5
The Kolkata Knight Riders spinner has been in the fray for an India debut since the end of the 2020 edition of the IPL. Replacing Kuldeep Yadav in the playing XI in the tournament last year, Chakravarthy ensured that he grabbed his chance, finishing the season with 17 wickets in 13 games with an economy rate of 6.84.
The leading wicket-taker for Tamil Nadu in the Vijay Hazare Trophy in 2018-19, with 22 wickets in nine games, Chakravarthy has emerged as a real threat with his variations. He had been selected in the squad for the series against Australia and England following IPL 2020, but missed out due to fitness issues. His selection, thus, does not come as a surprise and he could pip Kuldeep once again to make the XI — albeit this time for India.
Surprise quotient: 1 out of 5
It came as no surprise that the Royal Challengers Bangalore opener was given a call-up considering his recent form across all formats. Blessed with great temperament and technique, Padikkal ended with 473 runs in just 15 games to outscore the likes of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers in IPL 2020. He continued his scintillating form in the Vijay Hazare Trophy as well this year, where he scored 737 runs in seven innings to prove his skills across both white-ball formats.
Largely playing the role of an anchor, Padikkal unleashed his aggressive self in an IPL game earlier this season when he raced away to an unbeaten 101 against Rajasthan Royals. Padikkal had been in excellent form in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy last year as well, scoring 580 runs in 12 games at a strike rate of nearing 175.
With Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan in the side, Padikkal might not get a chance to open right away, but is expected to be given a go sooner than later.
Surprise quotient: 2.5 out of 5
The left-armer had a season to remember in the latest edition of the IPL, where his ability to swing the ball impressed fans and pundits alike. Sakariya, who trained under Glenn McGrath at the MRF Pace Foundation after an impressive outing in the Cooch Behar Trophy in 2015, has had a few impressive years in domestic cricket under his belt.
He finished with 12 wickets in five games at an economy rate of just 4.90 in the recent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, but considering his overall inexperience — he has played 23 T20 games and seven List A matches — one wonders if he has been rushed into the side.
Surprise quotient: 3 out of 5
Though the Chennai Super Kings opener impressed in the last two editions of the IPL — he ended as the leading run-scorer or his team last season, and smashed three successive fifties at the top in 2021 — Gaikwad’s indifferent form in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy this year, where he ended with 94 runs in five innings with a strike rate of just 116.04 — is tough to ignore. He failed to amass 200 runs in the Vijay Hazare Trophy as well, and with a number of openers already in the side, questions are being asked if the Maharastra player will be given a chance in the upcoming tour.
Having Dinesh Karthik, undoubtedly one of the best finishers in the country currently, over Gaikwad, who has to try and fit into an already top-heavy side, could have been the alternative choice.
Surprise quotient: 3.5 out of 5
The all-rounder made waves when he was bought by CSK for a huge sum of INR 9.25 crore in the auctions ahead of IPL 2021. However, he did not get a game in the tournament before it was suspended due to a breach in the bio-bubble.
Gowtham’s ability to restrict the run-flow makes him useful in any side. He can also hit the ball a long way in the death overs, which has made him a match-winner in domestic cricket. In List A games, Gowtham has an economy rate of 4.73 while his strike rate is an impressive 141.26. In T20s, he concedes just 7.6 an over and can strike the ball at a rate of 159.24.
He is a regular wicket-taker as well but has not had the best run in the IPL of late. Gowtham has just played nine games in the tournament in the last three years and could miss out on the first-choice XI with Krunal Pandya making the cut instead.
Surprise quotient: 4 out of 5
Probably the biggest surprise in the squad, Nitish Rana is yet another player to be accommodated in a packed top-order. Though the KKR batsman has been churning out runs constantly across formats, his selection comes as a surprise purely because the spots he can fill are already brimming with a number of options.
Rana has scored over 300 runs in the IPL from 2017 to 2020, and was in terrific form in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy this year, where he ended with 183 runs at a strike rate of 165. However, he is often prone to inconsistency and has struggled with his strike rate in the IPL in the powerplay overs, which further makes his selection a surprise. It will also be interesting to see where the management fits him, considering spots three and four could be reserved for Suryakumar Yadav and Manish Pandey, respectively.
Subscribe to the Wisden Cricket YouTube channel for post-match awards, player interviews, analysis and much more.