The India ODI and T20I squad for the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka was announced on Thursday, with Shikhar Dhawan taking charge of the 20-member side.
While the Virat Kohli-led side will be in England for the Test series, a second-string team will travel to Sri Lanka next month for a short white-ball series. The side, a perfect blend of experience and youth, will be coached by Rahul Dravid, who will be in charge of the senior team for the very first time.
India squad for Sri Lanka tour: Shikhar Dhawan (Captain), Prithvi Shaw, Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suryakumar Yadav, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Nitish Rana, Ishan Kishan (Wicket-keeper), Sanju Samson (Wicket-keeper), Yuzvendra Chahal, Rahul Chahar, K Gowtham, Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Varun Chakravarthy, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Vice-captain), Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini, Chetan Sakariya
Net Bowlers: Ishan Porel, Sandeep Warrier, Arshdeep Singh, Sai Kishore, Simarjeet Singh
Major takeaways from the India squad for Sri Lanka
Plenty at the top
One look at the squad and the number of options at the top of the order is what stands out. Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw — the successful Delhi Capitals opening pair — are expected to be the first-choice openers, but they are likely to sit out for a few games to hand chances to Devdutt Padikkal and Ruturaj Gaikwad. The former was the highest run-scorer for Royal Challengers Bangalore last year, while Gaikwad finished with 204 runs in six games, including three successive fifties before the IPL was postponed this year.
Nitish Rana, Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson, and Suryakumar Yadav all bat in the top order as well, and it will be interesting to see the combination the side goes in with.
Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar get their due
Two accomplished Indian stars will finally get a taste of top-flight leadership: while Dhawan will lead the side, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been appointed his deputy for the series. The two players had previously led Sunrisers Hyderabad, with the left-hander captaining the franchise way back in 2014. He has experience leading his domestic side Delhi in various competitions, including the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy earlier this year.
Bhuvneshwar, on the other hand, has stepped up for SRH and led the team in the absence of David Warner and Kane Williamson. He was the skipper of Uttar Pradesh during the Vijay Hazare Trophy earlier this year and helped guide his team to the final.
A chance to leave a mark for experienced players
The upcoming series offers a chance of revival for many, including Prithvi Shaw, Manish Pandey, Sanju Samson, and Kuldeep Yadav — all of whom have been in and out of the Indian side of late. Shaw, who was dropped from the side after an ordinary outing in Australia, has bounced back in style with splendid showings in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and the IPL and will want to continue his form at international level.
Pandey, dropped from the BCCI contract list recently, had a decent outing in the first half of IPL 2021, scoring 193 runs in five innings. After being omitted from the home T20I squad against England, question marks were raised over his future, but the right-hander now has an opportunity to leave his mark.
The series, however, holds utmost importance for Samson and Kuldeep. Samson has seen himself being sidelined following the emergence of Rishabh Pant and Ishan Kishan and will want to grab onto his chance to stake a claim in the T20 World Cup squad. Kuldeep’s ordinary sojourn in the last few months has seen him being omitted from the playing XI in the IPL as well, and he will be itching to display his skills yet again.
Domestic performances rewarded
As many as six uncapped players make the cut in the side — Padikkal, Gaikwad, Rana, Krishnappa Gowtham, Chetan Sakariya, and Varun Chakravarthy. The aforementioned players have been consistent in domestic cricket along with the IPL, and the selectors have duly rewarded them with a call-up to the Indian side.
Padikkal carried forward his form from IPL 2020 into the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and the Vijay Hazare Trophy, scoring 218 runs in six games and 737 runs respectively. Rana scored close to 400 runs in the 50-over event while Sakariya scalped 12 wickets in the SMAT, conceding just under five runs an over besides impressing in the IPL. Chakravarthy has been constantly knocking on the international door and could have made his debut if not for fitness issues, while Gaikwad’s impressive run for CSK this year was hard to overlook.
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