The BCCI selection committee named a 16-member squad with Rohit Sharma as captain that will play New Zealand in the three T20 internationals at home starting later this month. However, there was no place for half-fit Hardik Pandya while IPL 2021 sensation Ventakesh Iyer got a maiden national call-up. (More Cricket News)
Virat Kohli, who relinquished his T20 captaincy has been rested. Senior leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and pacer Mohammed Siraj return to India's T20 squad for series against New Zealand with the first T20 international on November 17 in Jaipur.
The new-look team also has IPL's highest run-getter Ruturaj Gaikwad and top wicket-taker Harshal Patel in the squad of 16 along with Iyer, who is seen as a potential all-round replacement for the injury-ravaged Pandya.
Chahal was mysteriously dropped from India's T20 World Cup squad and then was fabulous during the UAE leg of the IPL. Avesh Khan, who took 24 wickets for Delhi Capitals and finished second in the list, was a unanimous pick after his stupendous IPL performance.
Pandya has been dropped from the squad after failing to make an impact during the ongoing T20 World Cup. Ruturaj has already played for India in the Sri Lanka series. Shreyas Iyer, Axar Patel and Deepak Chahar, who were in the T20 World Cup reserves are now in the main squad.
Rohit's appointment was a formality and KL Rahul will be his new deputy in the shortest format. Pacers Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and spinner Ravindra Jadeja have also been given much-needed rest for the short series.
The doors of the Indian dressing room opened pretty fast for the Kolkata Knight Riders opener Iyer. A few months ago, nobody knew left-handed Iyer, who plays for Madhya Pradesh in the domestic circuit.
But the 26-year-old Chartered Accountant dropout became a sensation for KKR in the IPL 2021 UAE leg scoring 370 runs in 10 matches for two-time champions KKR and was instrumental in the franchise making it to the final of the tournament.
Iyer, who is seen as a like-for-like replacement for Pandya, also took three wickets to justify his role as an all-rounder. Iyer was among the five players from the IPL who were asked to stay back in the UAE to assist the Indian team in their preparations for the T20 World Cup.
On the other hand, Chennai Super Kings opener Gaikwad's inclusion was on expected lines after he finished IPL 2021 with 635 runs, pipping teammate Faf du Plessis for the Orange Cap. The right-hander didn't stop there as he struck three back-to-back fifties for Maharashtra in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament.
It will be tough for Gaikwad, who made his international debut against Sri Lanka earlier this year, to crack into the playing XI, that has Rohit and Rahul as fixed openers. Gaikwad was a vital cog in CSK's title-winning IPL 2021 campaign. For Harshal, hard work finally paid off.
One of the consistent Indian uncapped bowlers in the IPL for several years, Harshal finished with an astonishing 32 wickets from 15 games in the IPL 2021, although Royal Challengers Bangalore were ousted in the play-offs.
Harshal also became all-time highest wicket-taker in a single season of IPL, a record which was held by Chennai Super Kings' Dwayne Bravo over the years. He also took a hat-trick against Mumbai Indians and was among the eight net bowlers for India in the T20 World Cup.
India’s T20I squad: Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (Vice-Captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Ishan Kishan (wicket-keeper), Venkatesh Iyer, Yuzvendra Chahal, R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Avesh Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Harshal Patel, Mohd. Siraj.
Full schedule of T20 series between India vs New Zealand:
1st T20 - Jaipur (November 17)
2nd T20 - Ranchi (November 19)
3rd T20 - Kolkata (November 21)