Young Punjab allrounder Gurkeerat Singh Mann on Sunday earned his maiden call-up into the Indian ODI team while Karnataka left-arm seamer Srinath Aravind was a surprise inclusion in the T20 squad picked by the selectors for the limited-overs leg of the upcoming home series against South Africa.
The Sandeep Patil-led selection committee announced the teams for the three T20s and the first three one-day internationals against the Proteas starting October 2 at Dharamsala.
The 25-year-old Gurkeerat, who plays for Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League, was rewarded with a place in the ODI team for his consistent performance for India A.
Limited-overs captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was back at the helm after a break of almost three months while senior offspinner Harbhajan Singh was retained in the T20 squad for his decent show during the tour of Zimbabwe.
Legspinner Amit Mishra’s good show against Sri Lanka was also rewarded as he found a place in both the squads.
Opener Shikhar Dhawan, recuperating from a hand fracture he suffered during the first Test against Sri Lanka last month, was also included in both the squads.
Barring Gurkeerat and Aravind’s inclusion, there were no major surprises with the selectors preferring to stick with recent pool of players who have done well for India.
All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was a notable omission in both the squads while pacers Ishant Sharma, considered only for Tests of late, was not considered. Also not finding a place in the squad was Varun Aaron, while Mohammad Shami is still recovering from his knee injury.
Seniors like Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Dhawan and Ravichandran Ashwin were automatic selections in both the teams, so were Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, all of whom have been integral part of India’s limited overs’ scheme of things.
However, the inclusion of Mohit Sharma is a bit questionable as he hasn’t promised much or made any notable contribution in the chances he has got so far.
Chairman of selectors Sandeep Patil said that the squads have been picked keeping the World T20 in mind.
“We have always discussed the forthcoming World T20. We have also discussed the possibilities and the performances of players and who all will be useful,” Patil told media persons in Bengaluru.
About Gurkeerat’s selection, Patil said, “We have kept in mind his all-round abilities and his recent performances. He is an exciting youngster. The ‘A’ series has gone well and we as selectors are happy that a lot of exciting youngsters are coming up.”
The BCCI also made it clear that there has been no discussion over the change in the ODI captaincy and that they are satisfied with Dhoni leading the team in limited-overs.
“Not discussed anything regarding the change in ODI captaincy. Very happy with Dhoni. We totally back him during this series,” said Patil.
The most surprising aspect of the selection was Aravind getting a look-in as he has exactly not set the stage on fire after he was once selected for an ODI home series against England back in 2011. He was dropped after that series without even being played in a single match.
During this year’s IPL, 31-year-old Aravind picked eight wickets in five matches for Royal Challengers Bangalore.
In fact, in the Karnataka Premier League, he went wicketless in four matches before getting three wickets for India A in the first one-dayer against Bangladesh A. One aspect of Aravind is that he can also bowl left-arm spinners if the conditions don’t suit his slow medium stuff.
Asked about the selection of bowlers, including Aravind, Patil said: “Looking ahead at the World T20, we wanted variation. We wanted to give opportunities to those who have done well in the domestic circuit, tri-series and A series. We wanted to give chance to those bowlers who have done well as we plan to pick the best for the World Cup.”
On fast bowler Shami’s injury status, the chairman stated that the Bengal speedster is undergoing rehabilitation.
“Shami is still undergoing rehab and he will join the camp tomorrow and then we will take a call. Roger Binny (selector) will be there at the camp. The selection committee is in touch with physio Patrick Farhart and we hope he recovers fast as we want him back in the team,” said Patil.
While Ishant was not considered for the limited-overs format, Patil said that his name was indeed discussed.
“It’s not that we are considering Ishant for Tests alone. We have discussed about him for ODIs as well as T20s,” the chief selector said.
Asked if picking Axar Patel in the ODI squad over Harbhajan Singh was a way of looking towards future, Patil said: “We try and select the best possible side and we leave the final eleven on team management and captain. They would pick the final XI considering the conditions of the pitch. We discussed Bhajji for ODIs but unfortunately we can only pick 15. We have to keep in mind the pitch while picking a team in order to get a right combination,” said Patil.
T20Is: MS Dhoni (C&WK), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu, Stuart Binny, R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Harbhajan Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma, Amit Mishra, S Aravind.
First 3 ODIs: MS Dhoni (C&WK), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane, Stuart Binny, R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Amit Mishra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav.