Rishabh Pant’s exploits in the tenth edition of the Indian Premier League have earned him spot in India’s squad for the upcoming tour of the West Indies, to take place soon after the end of the Champions Trophy 2017, while Kuldeep Yadav also got a look-in.
The senior selection committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India met on Thursday (June 15) and picked a 15-member squad for the series comprising five One-Day Internationals and one Twenty 20 International. The series kicks off with the first ODI at Queen’s Park Oval on June 23 and concludes on July 9 with the T20I.
The squad doesn’t look too different from the one at the ongoing Champions Trophy but for the inclusion of Pant and Kuldeep in place of Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah.
Rohit only returned to international cricket at the Champions Trophy after nearly seven months on the sidelines following surgery to fix a quadriceps issue. He has been in great touch and shored up India’s semifinal win over Bangladesh on Thursday with an 11th ODI ton. Explaining the rationale behind resting Rohit, Virat Kohli said in Birmingham after the win against Bangladesh, “Rohit has come back and had a full IPL season, which has been hectic. They (Mumbai Indians) reached the final, so he got lesser rest than anyone else. Plus, you know, he had a massive hip surgery, and the muscles around that area are always vulnerable.
“Today also he felt a bit of stiffness in his right knee, and we decided the smart decision is to rest a guy who’s playing — there’s no doubt about Rohit’s ability and what he brings to the team. We need to protect him going further because in the latter half of the year, we have massive tours coming up, and his batting contribution will be a huge factor for us,” the Indian captain added. “So we want him to be careful because after a massive surgery, you do need to be careful. If you push yourself a little too hard, then it snaps again, and you’re out for seven-eight months. It’s a conscious decision by everyone to give him a break. He’s making the most of the form he’s in right now, and I’m sure he also knows and understands the whole situation.”
Pant, who created a stir in the 2016 Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh, showed that his skills could translate to big numbers against the best in the world, scoring 366 runs from 14 games for Delhi Daredevils. His best of 97 against Gujarat Lions was lauded by many analysts as one of the best IPL innings of all time.
He has been a part of the Indian team in the past, featuring in the playing XI in the final T20I against England earlier this year where he remained unbeaten on five with India batting first.
Kuldeep, who made his Test debut earlier this year against Australia, hasn’t donned the national colours in the limited-overs format, but the left-arm wrist-spinner has been on the threshold of a spot in the side since being included in the squad for the first time in 2014.
Manish Pandey, who was part of the Champions Trophy squad but had to drop out with a left side strain he picked up during the IPL, continued to miss out, and his replacement for the global event, Dinesh Karthik, retained his spot.
A BCCI statement also confirmed that the administrative staff of the Indian team will continue for the tour, though it made no reference to whether Anil Kumble would travel on the tour as the head coach. The administrative staff generally comprises the team manager, the logistics manager and those not directly involved with cricketing matters.
Vinod Rai, chairman of the Committee of Administrators in charge of running the BCCI, had said on Monday, “Since it has got delayed (the coach selection process), Anil Kumble, subject to his acceptance, will be there till the West Indies tour.”
The board had advertised for the post of head coach in May with Kumble’s one-year tenure due to expire at the end of the Champions Trophy. Virender Sehwag and Tom Moody were among those who had thrown their hats into the ring to be Kumble’s replacement.
Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, the men who make up the Cricket Advisory Committee of the BCCI, have been tasked with selecting the next coach.
Squad: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (wk), Yuvraj Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Dinesh Karthik.
June 23: First ODI at Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain
June 25: Second ODI at Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain
June 30: Third ODI at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, North Sound
July 2: Fourth ODI at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, North Sound
July 6: Fifth ODI at Sabina Park, Kingston
July 9: One-off T20I at Sabina Park, Kingston