In a huge revamp in T20 and ODI teams for the upcoming limited-overs series against Australia, national selectors sprang a surprise in dropping Suresh Raina from the ODI squad, including Yuvraj Singh and Ashish Nehra for T20 games and persisting with Shikhar Dhawan in both formats. In all, the new T20 side had six changes after India lost 0-2 against South Africa in October 2015. Other than Raina, Bhuvneshwar Kumar was also dropped from the ODI side but the biggest surprise was the inclusion of Punjab’s 23-year old left-arm pace bowler Brainder Sran in the ODI team, while Ambati Rayudu, Stuart Binny and Amit Mishra were dropped from both T20 and ODI squads. Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja have made their comebacks in both teams.
Suresh Raina’s exclusion from the ODI side was based on his poor show since the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. In his last 26 ODI innings, Raina has scored just one century and his combined total in eight matches since the 2015 World Cup is only 180. In the recent series against South Africa, Raina couldn’t break free and managed a mere 68 runs from five matches. Selectors viewed Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s performance on similar lines as the pacer could only take 7 wickets from five matches against South Africa at an economy rate of 7.13. However, both Raina and Bhuvneshwar have retained their places in the T20 squads. The same is the fate of Harbhajan Singh, who has been dropped from ODIs but kept his T20 berth. The overhauled ODI squad had a surprising inclusion of Punjab medium pacer Brainder Sran supposedly to bolster the attack in the absence of Bhuvi Kumar. It is difficult to conjure how Sran made the grade since he has only 7 List-A matches against his name with 15 wickets at an average of 26.73. Manish Pandey has probably been recalled to fill in for Raina. Himachal Pradesh all-rounder Rishi Dhawan has found a place in the ODI team, which also has Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma on recall duty. The chairman of the selection committee Mr Sandeep Patil justified the inclusion of Sran and Pandey in ODI squad by saying that these two would bring some unpredictability.
Two old-timers; Yuvraj Singh and Ashish Nehra are back in T20 squads. Yuvraj has been on the sidelines since his unduly slow batting performance in the 2014 World T20 final against Sri Lanka. While Yuvraj was expected to consolidate India’s final total, he finished on 11 and consumed 21 deliveries. That innings took the momentum away from India and Sri Lanka won the match by six wickets. Somehow, Yuvraj still commands a high market price in IPL. After his record-breaking buy by Royal Challengers Bangalore for Rs. 140 million in the 2014 season, Delhi Daredevils signed him up for Rs. 260 million in 2015. However, the 2011 World Cup Man-of-the-series couldn’t justify Delhi’s big spend on him as he made a total of just 248 runs in 14 matches last season. But Yuvraj has still made the T20 grade, while he couldn’t be included in the ODI squad. As for Ashish Nehra, his recall has perhaps been engineered by his good performance in the 2015 IPL season. Playing for the Chennai Super Kings, Nehra picked up 22 wickets in 16 matches and helped his team reach the final. It has been nearly 5 years since Nehra played his last game for the national side. However, in recalling Yuvraj and Nehra, the selectors might have had the experience in mind. Likewise, another old-timer Harbhajan Singh has been preferred for the T20 side but left out of the ODI combo.
Of the other new faces, 22-year old Hardik Pandya has been included in the T20 side on the strength of his solid performance for IPL Champions Mumbai Indians. Mohammad Shami and Ravindra Jadeja find their names in both T20 and ODI squads. While Jadeja’s recent performance against South Africa could have worked in his favor, Shami was sidelined due to injury. Now that he is fully fit, selectors have called him back. Axar Patel gets the axe for T20 but continues in the ODI. Gurkeerat Singh has been retained in ODI side but doesn’t feature in T20 team.
The BCCI has reaffirmed MS Dhoni’s continuation as the captain for both the ODI and T20I teams until the 2016 World T20. This announcement put a lid on several stories on change of guard doing the rounds in cricketing circles. The T20 World Cup is just three months away and the selectors didn’t want too much uncertainty on the leadership issue.