MS Dhoni, the former India captain, has been roped in as team mentor for the duration of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup, with BCCI secretary Jay Shah revealing conversations were held with captain Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and coach Ravi Shastri on the appointment.
“I spoke to Dhoni when I was in Dubai," Shah said after India named a 15-member squad for the men's T20 World Cup.
"He agreed to mentor India for the World Cup. We had discussed this before and we are all on the same page. We had a discussion with the captain (Virat Kohli), vice-captain (Rohit Sharma) and Coach Ravi Shastri, we are all on the same page and that’s how we reached the conclusion."
📢 India have announced their 15-member squad for the ICC Men’s @T20WorldCup 2021!— ICC (@ICC) September 8, 2021
Full squad 👇
Dhoni's presence in the team set-up will provide a massive boost to the side, given his pedigree in ICC tournaments. The 40-year-old, who announced his retirement last year, captained India to the inaugural T20 World Cup trophy in 2007, and also led the side to the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2011 and the Champions Trophy 2013.
Another big development revealed during the squad announcement was the comeback of R Ashwin. The off-spinner last played limited-overs cricket for India in 2017, and has since been restricted to Test cricket.
However, Ashwin did impress in the IPL thereafter, during stints with Rising Pune Supergiant, Punjab Kings and Delhi Capitals, and that played a part in his recall, Chetan Sharma, the chairman of the senior selection committee, revealed.
“Ravichandran Ashwin has been playing IPL regularly and has performed well, and definitely when we go into a World Cup you need to have a good off-spinner in your side," said Sharma.
"In UAE, when there will be the second half of the IPL, the wickets might be slow and assist the spinners. So, an off-spinner is a must in the team because Washington Sundar is injured Ashwin is an asset to the team."
Ashwin will be supported in the spin department by mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy and leg-spinner Rahul Chahar. It meant the duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal were left out.
“Varun Chakravarthy has bowled well with an economy rate of 5 per over in Sri Lanka," said Sharma. "He is a mystery bowler. The world doesn’t know what Varun Chakravarthy can do. He is a surprise package."
Shikhar Dhawan missed out – Sharma suggested he was rested – meaning India will rely on the versatility of Ishan Kishan for cover in the opening slot. “We have three openers in the squad. We have Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Ishan Kishan who can bat as an opener and can fit into the middle order at any point in time.
"Kishan provides us with multiple opportunities. If we need him to open, he will, as he has done (so) in the ODIs and scored a fifty there as well. In the middle order, he is a good player of spin and he is a good left-handed option with explosive abilities."
India will begin their ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021 campaign on 24 October with a blockbuster clash against Pakistan.
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