India include Hooda, Sundar for Nidahas Trophy; rest Kohli, Dhoni

India's captain Virat Kohli, left, and teammate Mahendra Singh Dhoni during their third Twenty20 international cricket match against New Zealand in Thiruvananthapuram, India, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
As many as six regular players have been rested from India’s T20I side for the tri-nation Nidahas Trophy to be held in Sri Lanka from March 6. The players rested include captain Virat Kohli, former captain MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah.

As a result, exciting prospects such as Washington Sundar, Deepak Hooda, Mohammed Siraj, Vijay Shankar and Rishabh Pant get a look in for the tournament that will also include hosts Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

In Kohli’s absence, Rohit Sharma will lead the side, while Shikhar Dhawan backs up as his deputy for the series.

Squad: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan (vice-captain), KL Rahul, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Vijay Shankar, Shardul Thakur, Jaydev Unadkat, Mohammad Siraj, Rishabh Pant (wk)

Four of the six players rested have been regular faces in the India set up. Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah have played in all three formats during the just-concluded tour of South Africa. India, who finished the arduous South Africa tour only a day before (February 24), fielded Pandya in all Tests, ODIs and T20Is, Bhuvneshwar missed a Test and an ODI, Bumrah missed only one game, while Kohli did not take part in the final T20I.

Dhoni, as confirmed by the Chairman of selectors, MSK Prasad, had requested for rest.

The five players coming in to the side boast of untapped potential. Hooda’s big-hitting abilities were on display when he smashed a hundred and a fifty in the recently finished Vijay Hazare campaign. Also, his strike-rate of 150-plus during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, which saw him score two fifties, put him on the selectors’ radar. Sundar too has come a long way in becoming the miserly offspinner who can constrict the run flow and bowl inside the powerplay. His more than handy batting too holds him in good stead.

India also recalled Mohammed Siraj to their outfit, having ignored him for the South Africa T20Is following two disappointing displays against New Zealand and Sri Lanka late last year. Rishabh Pant, who last featured in the one-off T20I in West Indies, has been called up too. The Delhi skipper will also serve as the backup wicket-keeper. Pant had been in stellar form throughout India’s T20 domestic season, smashing four fifties and a hundred across the Zonal T20 League and the subsequent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. His blistering 38-ball 116 against Himachal Pradesh brought him back into the top shelf, having endured a tough Ranji season with only one fifty to his credit.

The Chairman of All-India Senior Selection Committee, MSK Prasad, said: “We’ve kept in mind the workload and upcoming schedule while finalizing the team for Nidahas Trophy. The high-performance team has suggested that adequate rest should be given to our fast bowlers to help improve athletic performance, maximize rest and prevent injury.”

Suresh Raina, who impressed in the T20 series against South Africa, Dinesh Karthik and Manish Pandey are retained in the squad and will hope to make the most of their chances. And so will the likes of Jaydev Unadkat, Axar Patel and Shardul Thakur.


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