Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant and left-arm wristspinner Kuldeep Yadav have been picked for India’s limited-overs tour of West Indies, which comprises five ODIs and a T20 international soon after the Champions Trophy ends in England.
Opener Rohit Sharma and fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah are the only members from the Champions Trophy squad who won’t be making the trip to the Caribbean.
Pant has had the cricket community excited with his aggressive batting, which included a 326-ball 308 in the Ranji Trophy last season. Kuldeep made his Test debut in the same season, and took crucial wickets on day one of the Dharamsala Test and helped India win the series against Australia.
The BCCI did not state why Sharma and Bumrah had been left out of the squad. But captain Virat Kohli suggested Sharma had been left out of the squad with the view of ensuring his fitness for bigger assignments – tours to Sri Lanka and South Africa – later in the year.
Rohit had only returned to the India squad for the Champions Trophy, after missing the majority of the 2016-17 home season because of injury.
West Indian fans will be disappointed not to see Sharma as he is one of the most attractive batsmen in world cricket. Kohli backed the decision to rest him and stressed the need to monitor Sharma’s fitness after his “massive hip surgery”.
“Rohit has come back and really had a full IPL season, which has been hectic,” Kohli said after India won the semi-final against Bangladesh Thursdat; the squad had been announced by the BCCI during the course of the game. “They [Mumbai Indians] reached the final, so he got lesser rest than anyone else. Plus he had a massive hip surgery, so muscles around that area are always vulnerable, and today also he felt a bit of stiffness in his right knee.
“There is no doubt about Rohit’s ability and what he brings to the team. We need to protect him going further, because latter half of the year we have massive tours coming up, and his batting contribution will be a huge factor for us. So we want him to be careful because after a massive surgery you do need to be careful. If you push yourself a little too hard then it snaps again, you’re out for seven, eight months.
“It is a conscious decision by everyone to give him a break. He is making the most of the form he is in right now. And I’m sure he also knows and understands the whole situation.”
Rohit suffered his injury during the home ODIs against New Zealand in October last year, and missed home series against England, Bangladesh and Australia. He returned to action during the IPL and led Mumbai Indians to the title, and made his India comeback in the ongoing Champions Trophy.
Sharma’s unbeaten 123 off 129 balls in the semi-final against Bangladesh vaulted him to second place in the list of highest run-scorers in the tournament – 304 runs in four innings at a strike rate of 87.60.
Squad: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (wk), Yuvraj Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, R Ashwin, R Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav and Dinesh Karthik