NEW DELHI :
SENIOR off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin returned to India’s white-ball outfit after four years when he was included in the 15-member squad for the T20 World Cup alongside the fast-rising trio of Ishan Kishan, Axar Patel and Varun Chakaravarthy. Also making the squad was Suryakumar Yadav, the 30-year-old Mumbai batsman who has been making a name for himself for his power-hitting. The 34-year-old Ashwin last played white-ball cricket for India in 2017 before being sidelined from One-Day cricket following the Champions Trophy. However, he kept performing in the IPL besides leading India’s spin attack in Test cricket. Kishan (23) and Chakaravarthy (30) have been rewarded for their consistent performance in the IPL and also impressed in the few opportunities they got with the Indian team. The T20 World Cup starts October 17 in the UAE and Oman.
The big names to be dropped were opener Shikhar Dhawan and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal. Rahul Chahar has been preferred over Chahal who was a certainty in India’s limited over squads until now. Dhawan has been overlooked with KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Kishan picked as the three openers. Talking about the squad, chief selector Chetan Sharma said: “Ashwin is an asset. He performed well in the IPL and we needed a player of his experience. We need an off-spinner with Washington (Sundar) injured. “Ashwin is the only off-spinner in the squad.
Varun is a mystery spinner who is a surprise package for the world,” he added. Sharma also stated that all-rounder Hardik Pandya is “absolutely fit and will bowl his quote of overs.” “We have picked Rahul Chahar over Yuzi as we wanted someone who bowls fast and gets pace off the pitch,” Sharma explained. Axar has been picked as a back up to all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja. The others who could not find a place in the main squad were Prithvi Shaw and Shreyas Iyer. Iyer has, however, made the standbys list along with Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar. Thakur has been in tremendous form and has already produced eye-catching performances in the ongoing Test series against England. India will open their T20 World Cup campaign on October 24 by taking on arch-rivals Pakistan.
BCCI makes Dhoni mentor
ICONIC former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was brought in as mentor of India’s 15-member T20 World Cup squad by the BCCI, a move that took everyone by surprise. “Former India Captain MS Dhoni to mentor the team for the T20 World Cup,” announced BCCI secretary Jay Shah in a press conference. “(I) spoke to him in Dubai. He agreed to be mentor for WT20 only and I discussed with my colleagues and all are on same page. I spoke to captain (Virat Kohli) and vice-captain (Rohit Sharma) and everyone agreed,” he added. The 40-year-old Dhoni retired from international cricket last year having played his last game in 2019 World Cup semi-final. It is believed that he has been brought in for his experience in devising white ball strategy and for also knowing how to win crucial ICC tournaments which has not been the case with his successor. One of the most successful captains in the history of Indian cricket, the enigmatic wicketkeeper-batsman led India to two world titles -- the 2007 T20 World Cup in South Africa and the 2011 ODI World Cup in India.