Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have made a return to the India T20I squad after an absence of more than a year from the format. This comes ahead of the three-match series against Afghanistan.
The series marks India's final T20Is before the T20 World Cup scheduled for June. The inclusion of the star duo not only brings immense experience but also adds depth to the team's batting lineup, not to speak of leadership.
Rohit Sharma will lead the India T20I squad
Rohit Sharma, who has been named the captain of the squad, will once again lead the team in the shortest format of the game, all but confirming that he would also lead the team in the ICC tournament.
This move comes as no surprise, as Rohit was always the permanent skipper with Hardik Pandya, Suryakumar Yadav etc being stand-in options with Rohit making himself unavailable in T20Is in 2023.
Virat Kohli, on the other hand, is a formidable force with the bat and brings his consistent batting style back to the T20I format. Known for his incredible fitness and determination, Kohli has been a mainstay in the Indian team for years, and was the leading run-scorer for the team in the 2022 T20 World Cup.
The return of the two stalwarts also raise questions on India’s planning around the youngsters they blooded in the T20I squad in the last year and the inevitable rebalancing the squad would need.
The absence of Hardik and Suryakumar due to injuries has opened the door for the likes of Sanju Samson and Shivam Dube. Hardik, who had been leading the T20I side in Rohit's absence, is a crucial all-rounder for India. His ability to contribute with both bat and ball makes him an invaluable asset to the team.
Why India needed Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma
Suryakumar has also been sidelined due to an ankle injury, which means that India needed experienced leaders like Rohit and Kohli to step in and guide the team.
Both players have been focusing on Test cricket and ODIs in recent times, with their eyes set on the World Test Championship final and the ODI World Cup in 2023. Their return now indicates their commitment to representing India in the T20 format once again.
While Rohit and Kohli's return is the big news, there are some notable omissions from the squad. KL Rahul, who has been a prolific run-scorer in other formats of late, has not found a place in the 15-member squad.
Ishan Kishan, who had opted out of the two-Test series in South Africa to refocus on his game, has also chosen to take a break from T20Is. These decisions indicate that the team management is looking to try out different combinations and provide opportunities to other talented players.
Kerala’s Samson returns to the T20I setup after being out of India's plans since touring Ireland with a second-string squad in August the previous year.
Samson's inclusion comes on the back of his maiden international century during the ODI leg of the South Africa tour last month. His ability to keep wickets and contribute with the bat adds versatility to the team.
🚨 NEWS 🚨#TeamIndia’s squad for @IDFCFIRSTBank T20I series against Afghanistan announced 🔽— BCCI (@BCCI) January 7, 2024
Rohit Sharma (C), S Gill, Y Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Tilak Varma, Rinku Singh, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Shivam Dube, W Sundar, Axar Patel, Ravi Bishnoi, Kuldeep Yadav,…
Another exciting addition is Mumbai all-rounder Dube, who had a stellar IPL season in 2023 with Chennai Super Kings. Dube's role as a spin-hitter in the middle overs adds depth to India's batting, and his recent performances have earned him a place in the T20I squad.
Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj have been rested to manage their workloads ahead of the upcoming five-Test series against England. Their absence provides an opportunity for other fast bowlers to step up and showcase their skills.
Shreyas Iyer and Ravindra Jadeja are also missing from the squad due to various reasons, including injuries and personal issues.
Rohit and Kohli's return to India's T20I squad brings a sense of stability and experience to the team, but would it come at the cost of flamboyance that has been a feature of India’s T20I team of late with youngsters?
Their presence, coupled with the inclusion of talented players like Sanju Samson and Shivam Dube, makes India a formidable force for a team like Afghanistan anyway. The series commences on January 11 in Mohali.
India T20I squad for Afghanistan series
Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Tilak Varma, Rinku Singh, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Axar Patel, Ravi Bishnoi, Kuldeep Yadav, Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan, Mukesh Kumar