Yuvraj recalled, Kohli named ODI and T20I captain

Virat Kohli (Indian Express photo)

Yuvraj Singh has been recalled to both the ODI and T20I squads for India’s upcoming series against England in January. Virat Kohli was named the captain in both limited-overs formats after MS Dhoni stepped down on Wednesday.

Virat Kohli (Indian Express photo)

While Dhoni retained his place in both squads, wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant was named in the T20I squad. This was the 19-year-old Pant’s first international call-up. It followed a prolific Ranji Trophy, in which he scored 972 runs at an average of 81, including a triple-century at a strike rate of 94.

A BCCI official told ESPNcricinfo that they hope to find a successor for Dhoni, though he remains the first-choice behind the stumps. “As far as MS is concerned, he is fit and fine and there is no two ways about it. But, you still need to have a back-up ready, no? You have to prepare a succession chart, that is what is happening. Mahi is one guy who doesn’t keep knowledge within himself; he is always there to share. So what else do you want?”

In the absence of the injured Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane kept his spot in the ODIs, but the selectors opted for youth in the T20Is, going for Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore batsman Mandeep Singh ahead of Rahane. Shikhar Dhawan, who had been kept out of the Test squad despite recovering from his hand injury, walked back into the ODI squad.

Suresh Raina made a return too, but only to the T20I squad. He was originally selected for the ODI series against New Zealand, but illness ruled him out of the initial stages and he was later released. Considering he has only played five first-class matches since the end of the IPL in May 2016, the BCCI official said the selectors preferred to ease Raina back into international cricket. “See, that is the reason why we put him in T20. We will see how his progresses and we will take a call in [ODIs]”

R Ashwin, whose workload has been managed carefully because India are playing 13 Tests in their home season, was back in both the squads after he missed the closing stages of Tamil Nadu’s Ranji campaign with a sports hernia. Ravindra Jadeja, too, made a comeback to both the limited-overs squads after resting during the New Zealand ODIs.

Royal Challengers Bangalore legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal took the place of Amit Mishra in the T20I squad while veteran Amit Mishra retained his spot in the ODIs. Ashish Nehra, who missed the tours of Zimbabwe and the USA, came back to the T20I side, with the selectors going for experience in the bowling attack.

The return of the 35-year-old Yuvraj, though, remained the biggest talking point. Yuvraj last played for India in the World T20 in March 2016 and has not played ODIs since December 2013. He averaged 18.53 in his last 19 matches in the format going back to the start of 2012. The selectors, however, recalled him based on his form in the 2016-17 Ranji Trophy, where he scored 672 runs in five matches for Punjab, at an average of 84.00, making two hundreds including a 260 against Baroda.

“We should appreciate the way Yuvraj Singh has played in domestic cricket,” chairman of selectors MSK Prasad said. “All these days we thought he hasn’t played long innings. But he has scored a double-hundred. He scored 180 [sic] on the Lahli wicket.”

Fast bowler Mohammed Shami was yet to regain fitness after missing the last two Tests against England with a right knee injury. Some of the players coming back from injury were set to prove their fitness in the two warm-up matches against the England side in Mumbai. Dhawan and Rahane were set to play in the side games. Nehra, who has recovered from the hamstring injury that ruled him out of the IPL and the domestic season, will get to prove his fitness in the first of the tour games.

The selection meeting was delayed on Friday because of a lack of clarity over protocol in the wake of the Supreme Court order on January 2, which left the BCCI without most of its office-bearers. The meeting was supposed to begin at 12.30pm IST but it only began at 3.15pm after clarification was received from the Lodha Committee. It was eventually convened by the board’s CEO Rahul Johri.

ODI squad: KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (capt), MS Dhoni, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Hardik Pandya, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav

T20I squad: KL Rahul, Mandeep Singh, Virat Kohli (capt), MS Dhoni (wk), Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Manish Pandey, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashish Nehra




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