India include Rishabh Pant and Kuldeep Yadav in their 15-man squad for the upcoming limited-overs tour of West Indies, where Virat Kohli & Co. will play five ODIs and one T20I.
Opener Rohit Sharma and fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah are the only two members of India’s Champions Trophy squad that have been rested for the tour of the Caribbean. BCCI also confirmed that the current administrative staff will continue in their role, meaning Anil Kumble will stay on as head coach, at least for one more assignment after the ongoing Champions Trophy.
Rishabh’s inclusion comes at the back of impressive consistency over the last 15 months, that began with a successful World Cup campaign with the Under-19 team in Bangladesh, where he scored 267 runs in 6 innings at an average of 44.50. His continued batting performance included a century and two fifties, and earned him a hefty IPL contract with the Delhi Daredevils. Rishabh carried his free-spirited batting style and ominous form into first-class cricket.
Rishabh’s Ranji Trophy 2016-17 highlights reel included a stunning 48-ball century and a triple ton as he finished the season with 972 runs in 8 matches at an average of 81.00 and an eye-popping strike rate of 107.28. Rishabh’s success didn’t go unnoticed as he got picked for India’s T20I squad for the home series against England.
Rishabh will be India’s third wicket-keeping option in the Caribbean, with MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik also present.
Kuldeep Yadav too has benefitted from his fine form in the domestic season (35 wickets in 8 games for Uttar Pradesh), which earned him a Test cap against Australia in Dharamsala early this year. Kuldeep was also key to Kolkata Knight Riders’ IPL campaign in 2017, picking up 12 wickets in as many fixtures. Despite Yuzvendra Chahal’s six-fer against England in the last T20I in February, the leggie doesn’t find place in the squad. Senior leggie Amit Mishra too has been overlooked.
There are no surprises in the batting department, barring Rohit’s omission, and the top-order should pick itself with Ajinkya Rahane taking his fellow Mumbai batsman’s spot. While Suresh Raina, who featured in India’s last T20I series, has also missed the bus, KL Rahul continues his recovery from a shoulder injury. Rahul’s Karnataka compatriot Manish Pandey too remains out of action, owing to a side strain suffered during the Indian Premier League 2017.
Shikhar Dhawan, who was dropped for the England T20Is, has found a way back after impressive performances in the IPL and ongoing Champions Trophy.
The series begins with the first two ODIs on June 23 and June 25 in Trinidad, before the action shifts to Antigua for the third and fourth fixture. Sabina Park in Jamaica will host the last ODI on July 6 and the one-off T20I on July 9.
Squad: Virat Kohli (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Ajinkya Rahane, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Yuvraj Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, R Ashwin, R Jadeja, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav and Dinesh Karthik