On Monday, India’s limited-overs squads for the upcoming series against Sri Lanka and Australia were released by the BCCI selection committee. India is set to play three T20Is against Sri Lanka, starting January 5. The series will be followed by three ODIs against Australia. Notably, both these series are at home.
Star fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah will headline India’s pace attack in the limited-overs series. Bumrah was out of action for three months with a back injury. The series will also mark the return of Shikhar Dhawan, who had suffered a knee injury in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy last month. Notably, Rohit Sharma was on Monday rested from the series versus the islanders.
He will return for the Australia ODIs next. Mohammed Shami was also rested for the T20Is against Lanka and isn’t included in the ODI squad as well. However, he could return for the crucial tour of New Zealand.
The selection committee did not take any chances and named a strong outfit for both the formats in order to keep preparations going strongly. Several injuries see some new faces, especially in the pace department. The rest of the side was the one that was fielded against West Indies recently.
“Jasprit Bumrah is back in both the teams for Sri Lanka and Australia and we have rested Rohit Sharma and Mohammed Shami for the Sri Lanka T20s. Shikhar Dhawan also comes back and Sanju Samson will be the back-up opener in T20Is,” chairman of selectors MSK Prasad told reporters.
Here are the major learnings from India’s limited-overs squads against Sri Lanka and Australia respectively.
A chance for Saini and Thakur to impress in India’s pace department
Team India’s fast-rising pacer Deepak Chahar had aggravated his back injury and will be out till the start of next year’s Indian Premier League (IPL). His absence sees Navdeep Saini keeping his place. Saini had replaced Chahar for the final ODI against West Indies in Cuttack recently. The right-arm pacer, who himself had a niggle post the South Africa series, impressed in the ODI series decider against West Indies.
With India touring New Zealand in January 2020, Saini knows he has to grab his chance in both T20Is and ODIs. A strong outing for the player can help him feature in New Zealand for the limited-overs assignments. The same goes for Shardul Thakur. The pacer had replaced Bhuvneshwar Kumar, whose sports hernia had resurfaced following the T20Is against WI.
Thakur did an able job with the bat to win the deciding match for India against WI in Cuttack. He is another player who will need to make his presence felt and do his job ably.
Timely rest for Rohit in India’s T20I assignment against Lanka
Senior opening batsman Rohit went on to appear in 47 matches across formats in 2019. That is three more than skipper Virat Kohli and a break was long on the cards. It was a timely decision by the management and the committee to have Rohit take some time off and be fresh for the Australia ODIs.
The Hitman topped the ODI charts in 2019 with 1,490 runs under his belt. He slammed 7 tons and six fifties. The senior cricketer also ended as the second-highest run-scorer across formats in the game (2,442). With Team India playing non-stop cricket, this period of rest will help Rohit in terms of setting his body right after all the toll.
He remains an important bet in India’s ODI series against the Aussies, before the tour of New Zealand to follow. The tour comprising, five T20 Internationals, three ODIs, and two Test matches get underway from January 24.
Crucial period for Dhawan ahead of India’s New Zealand tour
Dhawan hasn’t been in the best of touches with the bat of late. The southpaw scored 41, 31 and 19 in the three T20Is against Bangladesh last month. Post that he got severely injured in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. In the domestic T20 tournament, he failed to get going and had a best of just 35 in the five games he featured for Delhi.
The issue with Dhawan in recent times is that the player has been consuming many deliveries to put pressure on the others. Also, when getting starts, he isn’t being able to convert them into big scores. That has been a problem, besides him being injury-prone.
So he needs to perform well against Lanka. With KL Rahul in prime form, the latter could trump Dhawan as the first-choice opener in the ODIs against Australia, followed by the tour of New Zealand.
All eyes on Bumrah in India’s pace-bowling department
Bumrah’s return to the side was the talk of the town. He returns during a crucial phase and will be raring to have a crack. Bumrah was supposed to feature in the Ranji Trophy ‘Elite Group A’ match between Gujarat and Kerala, however, he will now miss the match after being handed an elongated break by BCCI president Sourav Ganguly.
The pacer will now be seen directly in the three-match T20I series. The star bowler will be India’s go-to man in New Zealand and he will want to use these two assignments to build his game. Bumrah will be hoping to be 100% in both the series and his fitness will determine how he goes about things.
Bumrah was superb for India in the ICC World Cup 2019. That was his last white ball assignment in cricket. He would like to guide the likes of Saini and Thakur and help them fulfill their potential.
Team India Squad (T20Is against Sri Lanka): Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Shivam Dube, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur, Manish Pandey, Washington Sundar, Sanju Samson.
Team India Squad (ODIs vs Australia): Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah.