India‘s T20I squad welcomes back Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli after over a year’s hiatus from the format. This strategic return positions them as key players for the upcoming T20 World Cup. The absence of Hardik Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav due to injuries has led to Rohit being named captain for the three-match series against Afghanistan
The Captains Make a Comeback:
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, who prioritized Test cricket and ODIs, make a strong comeback to the T20I squad after their last appearance in the T20 World Cup semi-final defeat to England in November 2022. Their selection now aligns with India’s plans for the T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the USA.
Stand-in captains Hardik Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav, who led the side during Rohit and Kohli’s absence, are unavailable due to injuries. Suryakumar, who captained in the recent T20Is against Australia and South Africa, is sidelined for a couple of months with an ankle injury. Both Hardik and Suryakumar are expected to make a return for the IPL in March.
Ruturaj Gaikwad misses out due to a finger injury sustained in South Africa, and KL Rahul is not part of the 15-member squad. Ishan Kishan opts out for a break to refocus on his game after missing the South Africa Test series for the same reason. Wicketkeeper Jitesh Sharma retains his spot, and Sanju Samson makes a comeback as his backup.
Spotlight on Shivam Dube:
Mumbai allrounder Shivam Dube earns another chance in T20Is following an impressive IPL 2023, where he played a vital role for Chennai Super Kings. His spin-hitting abilities in the middle overs stood out, and his recent success in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 trophy adds to the team’s depth.
Rest and Rotation:
Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj are rested to manage their workloads ahead of the five-Test series against England. Shreyas Iyer and Ravindra Jadeja, the vice-captain during the drawn South Africa T20Is, are also missing. Jadeja, who missed the first Test against South Africa due to a neck spasm, is not included in the squad.
Deepak Chahar, initially named for the South Africa T20Is but missing due to a personal emergency, is not part of the squad. The selectors opt for Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan, and Mukesh Kumar. The spin attack will be led by Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, and Ravi Bishnoi.
The three T20Is against Afghanistan on January 11, 14, and 17 mark India’s last T20I series before the T20 World Cup in June. Following this, India hosts England from January 25 to March 11. After the series, players will disperse to join their respective IPL teams for the 2024 season, concluding just weeks before the T20 World Cup kickstarts on June 1.
The return of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli injects experience and leadership into India’s T20I squad. With a mix of seasoned players and promising talent, the team aims to make a strong statement against Afghanistan before gearing up for the challenges of the T20 World Cup later in the year.