The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Sunday announced squads for the upcoming T20I series against South Africa as well as the rescheduled fifth Test against England.
There was a lot of anticipation surrounding the possible squad for the T20I series against South Africa. With several players putting their hands up in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL), the selectors were spoilt for choices while picking the squad.
The BCCI also announced the squad for the rescheduled fifth Test against England in Edgbaston, which is set to commence on 1 July. India, who currently lead the series 2-1, will be led by Rohit Sharma, who was recently appointed the Test captain.
With the ICC Men's T20 World Cup around the corner, India's T20I squad against the Proteas answered many questions about possible team combinations for the marquee event.
Here are all the talking points from the two squads announced:
The return of Dinesh Karthik
When Sanjana Ganesan asked on the ICC Review ahead of the IPL about who is best suited to play India's finisher, Dinesh Karthik cheekily said, "First I would like to put my name." It's almost as if Karthik manifested his recall back in the India squad, with the wicket-keeper batter returning to the T20I set-up after a long gap.
A look at Karthik's T20I numbers will leave people scratching their heads as to how a player who averages 33.25 while striking at 143.52 hasn't found a place in India's T20I setup since February 2019. But with his scintillating performances in the IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore this season as a finisher, he made it difficult for selectors to ignore him and finds a place in the T20I squad against South Africa.
In the ongoing season of the IPL, the 36-year-old has 287 runs at an average of 57.40 and a sensational strike rate of 191.33. In several games when RCB looked down and out, he single-handedly grabbed victories from the jaws of defeat as the franchise made it to a third consecutive playoff.
After his fiery 34-ball 66 against Delhi Capitals earlier in the season, Karthik admitted to wanting to wear the India colours again heading into the T20 World Cup. "I must admit that I have a bigger goal," said DK in the post-match presentation. "I have been working really hard. My aim is to do something special for the country. This is part of my journey. I have been trying everything to be a part of the Indian team."
Cheteshwar Pujara finds spot in Test squad
It wasn't long ago that doubts were cast over the future of Cheteshwar Pujara when he, along with Ajinkya Rahane, were dropped for the two-match home series against Sri Lanka. Those doubts have been now been put to rest by Pujara himself, who has returned to the India squad for the rescheduled Test against England.
Perhaps being axed from the Test squad against Sri Lanka was a wake-up call for India's Test No.3, who signed with Sussex for the County Championship in March. In five matches he has played so far, he showed that he is far from done in the longest format, scoring 720 runs which include three centuries and one double-century.
With Pujara already acclimatised to the English conditions, it became a no-brainer for the selectors to have him in the squad for the final Test against England.
India persist with Chahal-Kuldeep spin duo
A lot of eyebrows were raised when Yuzvendra Chahal was dropped from India's World Cup squad. Despite brilliant performances in the second half of the IPL, India decided to go with Ravichandran Ashwin, Varun Chakravarthy, Ravindra Jadeja and Rahul Chahar as the spin-bowling options.
It didn't take long for the leggie to make a comeback though as he was a part of the series against West Indies and Sri Lanka. Now, after a brilliant outing in the IPL playing for the Rajasthan Royals, where he currently has 26 wickets and sits top of the most wickets table this season, he has become one of the first few names on India's T20I teamsheet.
Kuldeep Yadav's fortunes too have turned after moving to a new franchise in IPL 2022. After a few forgetful years playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders, the left-arm wrist-spinner found a new lease of life playing for the Delhi Capitals. In 14 matches, he picked up 21 wickets at an average of 19.95 and an economy of 8.43.
With 'Kul-Cha', as they are lovingly called, seemingly back at the top of their game, India have a good selection headache heading into the World Cup in Australia later this year.
Uncapped Indian pacers rewarded for IPL performances
The Indian pace revolution is showing no signs of stopping with the Indian Premier League brimming with several speedsters clocking 140-plus consistently. Two of the stars of this IPL, Umran Malik and Arshdeep Singh, have been rewarded with a place in the squad for the T20I series against South Africa.
Malik had the attention of the world on him when he made his IPL debut last year, clocking speeds of 150-plus without breaking a sweat. This year, though, under the guidance of Dale Steyn at Sunrisers Hyderabad, Malik has been a force to reckon with. At the time of writing, he had 21 wickets in 13 matches, including a sensational five-for against table-toppers Gujarat Titans.
Arshdeep, on the other hand, hasn't been as prolific with the ball in hand, with only 10 wickets in 13 matches, but it is his death bowling that has set him apart. Spearheading the bowling line-up alongside Kagiso Rabada, Arshdeep has been a menace in the death with his left-arm angle and variations.
With the India lineup lacking express pacers who can clock 150-plus consistently as well as a left-arm pacer, Malik and Arshdeep could plug two massive voids going forward.
No place for Rahul Tripathi
One of the most surprising exclusions from the squads announced today was that of Rahul Tripathi. Tripathi has been one of the most consistent batters in the IPL in the last two years, aggregating more than 390 runs at a strike rate of over 140 in both years. This year, playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad, he has scored 393 runs at a blistering strike rate of 161.
However, with India playing Ireland in two T20Is later in June, there is hope that Tripathi could be handed his maiden call-up soon.
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