The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Friday announced the 17-man squad for the 6-match ODI series in South Africa. Virat Kohli, who had earlier opted out of the ODI and T20I series against Sri Lanka at home will be back to lead the side against the mighty South Africans in their own backyard. Middle order batsman Kedar Jadhav and pacer Shardul Thakul were recalled into the squad keeping out KL Rahul, who has been in phenomenal form scoring back to back half centuries in the T20I series against Sri Lanka.
BCCI announces 17 man ODI squad for the South Africa Tour
The team will have the trusted opening combination of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the batting order and Ajinkya Rahane as the back up opener. Ajinkya Rahane, who has been running through a dry patch in Test cricket has been surprisingly backed by the team management as he was retained in the squad, leaving no place for KL Rahul despite the Karnataka batsman having shown good form in the ongoing T20I series.
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BCCI make a major decision on Rahul’s Batting position
“We are discussing Rahul’s batting position. Because the class and the form that he is in, it is really unfortunate that (he) is missing out. Right now those boys who are there in the squad have done well and it makes sense to continue with them. May be in times to come, KL will definitely get a look-in. We will try and see different options. Probably after this series, we have to think about that,”
Chairman of selectors MSK Prasad mentioned after the selection meeting.
The team will count on the experience of MS Dhoni to provide stability to the otherwise inexperienced middle-order comprising the likes of Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav and Dinesh Karthik. Shreyas Iyer has been retained in the squad after scoring two back to back half centuries in the ODI series against Sri Lanka while Manish Pandey, despite being susceptible against the moving ball in seaming South African pitches owing to his poor technique has shown his ability to score runs in the middle. Dinesh Karthik continues to remain in the side as the back up wicketkeeper for MS Dhoni, also doubling up as a specialist batsman in the middle order.
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Senior spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were once again ignored by the selectors, who seemed keen on giving the new spin-twins of India Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzuvendra Chahal a longer run in limited over cricket.
BCCI Statement on Chahhal and Kuldeep
“We keep on repeating that after Champions Trophy, we tried with the new boys – Chahal and Kuldeep – and we are being consistent with Axar,” Prasad said. “With the big games, they are definitely improving a lot and we all felt and it’s a unanimous decision that they should be given an extended role, since they are doing well. They should be backed,” he added. “We want to increase the bench-strength in the spin department and today all of us will accept that we have five-six quality spinners,”
he went on to say.
Hardik Pandya and Axar Patel make it into the squad as the team’s all-rounders. The pace bowling combination of Bhubaneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah invariably make it into the side, with their ability to strike both with the new ball and at the death. Mohammad Shami has been given a run in for the ODI series, leaving out Umesh Yadav while Shardul Thakur makes a comeback into the side after being ruled out of the ODI series against Sri Lanka with a shoulder injury. Veterans Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina despite having cleared the Yo-Yo fitness test were once again ignored by the selectors.
India squad: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur