India made several drastic changes to their limited overs squad today for the upcoming ODI and T20 series against England. Prior to the announcement of the squad, Indian legend Mahendra Singh Dhoni announced that he was stepping down as captain of both limited overs sides, but still made himself available for selection. It was hardly surprising that Virat Kohli was named as his successor as captain of the ODI and T20 sides, now making him India’s captain across all three formats.
India made six changes to their ODI squad that played against New Zealand, including the return of spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja at the expense of Axar Patel and Jayant Yadav. The injury to Rohit Sharma meant that Lokesh Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan returned to the squad as cover for the opener. However, the real shock in India’s ODI squad was the return of veteran all-rounder Yuvraj Singh. Yuvraj hasn’t played an ODI for India since late in 2013 and his return comes as a huge shock to most Indian cricket fans.
Yuvraj also made a return to India’s T20 squad and he will also be joined there by other veterans Ashish Nehra and Suresh Raina. The biggest surprise in India’s T20 squad was the inclusion of 19-year-old wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant. Pant had an excellent Ranji Trophy season as well as making his mark on the IPL with a 25-ball fifty. Another interesting change was the addition of Yuzvendra Chahal, a young leg-spinner who made his name with the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Amit Mishra was the player who was left out to accommodate for him.
The most controversial aspect of India’s new squads was the return of the veteran Yuvraj Singh. A phenomenal Ranji Trophy season is likely to have swayed the selectors in his favour, as Yuvraj found remarkable form. He scored 672 runs in just five matches at an average of 84, which included one magnificent double hundred. Yuvraj, however, was unable to find a way into the ODI side that played against New Zealand, despite playing several T20 matches in 2016. Yuvraj hasn’t actually played an ODI match for India since late in 2013, where he struggled in hostile overseas conditions in South Africa.
However, the all-rounder did feature for India in the Asia Cup T20 and also played a few matches of the World T20 competition last year. However, he did not have much success at all, only managing a top score of 25 in 2016. His bowling was slightly better, picking up some crucial wickets, none more key than the wicket of Steve Smith in the World T20.
The 35 year-old is one of the most experienced white-ball players around, having played just short of 300 ODIs. Moreover, India are lacking a quality all-rounder who can bat lower down the order and contribute with the ball. India initially turned to Mumbai Indians star Hardik Pandya and he was favoured for the World T20, where he secured a dramatic final over victory for India. However, he was later used a specialist seamer for India and is likely to be used in the same way, especially with the absence of Mohammed Shami through injury.
It is likely that Yuvraj will take up this all-rounder slot. Yuvraj has consistently delivered with the ball over the past few years, and his tight economy rates are key in building pressure in the middle overs. Indeed, his consistency with the ball means that it is his batting that will be under scrutiny in the upcoming series.
Kohli’s Limited Overs Era Begins
Virat Kohli has been India’s most prolific limited overs player for many years now, but today he finally has been given the opportunity to captain the T20 and ODI sides. Kohli’s Test captaincy has got off to a flying start, and he has already taken India to the top spot in the world rankings. His win-to-loss ratio is remarkable and he has proven himself to be an extremely aggressive and ruthless captain.
A key question for him heading into the series with England is how he should adjust and change his captaincy to suit for the limited overs format. Kohli has some prior experience of this, as he captained the Royal Challengers Bangalore to the final of the IPL last year.
However, there is a huge step-up between captaining domestic matches and international matches against one of the best sides in the world. Kohli is extremely lucky to have MS Dhoni still on the field with him, to provide guidance and oversee Kohli’s first few games in charge. Kohli is known for being slightly hot-headed on the field in limited overs matches and he definitely needs to adopt a slightly more calm and composed attitude to his captaincy. Hopefully the strain of captaining won’t affect his batting, but judging by the way it has affected his Test batting, it is not likely to make any negative impacts on his ability to score runs. Kohli thrives under pressure, and now he will have the opportunity to demonstrate his calculating style of play on the whole side.
Kohli’s men will first face England on the 15th June in the first ODI in Pune. They will be playing three ODIs and three T20 matches against England.
India ODI Squad for England:
Virat Kohli (Captain), MS Dhoni (Wicketkeeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Jaspirit Bumrah, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav, Bhuvnehswar Kumar, Amit Mishra, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Ajinkya Rahane, Lokesh Rahul, Yuvraj Singh, Umesh Yadav
India T20 Squad for England:
Virat Kohli (Captain), MS Dhoni (Wicketkeeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Jaspirit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav, Bhuvnehswar Kumar, Amit Mishra, Ashish Nehra, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant, Ajinkya Rahane, Lokesh Rahul, Suresh Raina, Mandeep Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Umesh Yadav