India vs New Zealand Series 2021: Rahul Dravid stint starts with strong calls on T20 team for New Zealand series | Cricket News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Indian cricket has pressed the reset button with the new T20I squad picked for the three-match series against New Zealand, which starts on Nov 17 in Jaipur. An India ‘A’ squad which will tour South Africa in the last week of November has also been selected. The new captain-coach pair of Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid have started their tenure with a few strong calls.

While Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja have been rested, Hardik Pandya has been dropped from the team. Varun Chakravarthy, who generated hype leading up to the T20 World Cup, too has been left out. Leg-spinner Rahul Chahar has made way for the seasoned Yuzvendra Chahal, who is making a comeback.
Venkatesh Iyer, who was a sensation in the second leg of the IPL in the UAE, has earned his maiden India call-up along with Harshal Patel. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been given another go to hit his stride while Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Shami’s immediate T20 future looks uncertain.
The selectors have probably learnt a harsh lesson by depending heavily on Hardik the allrounder. TOI understands that the selectors don’t feel Hardik merits a place in the team purely as batter. The focus is now on grooming batters who can bowl in white-ball cricket.
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This is exactly why Venkatesh Iyer has leapfrogged the likes of Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill. However, it is expected that Venkatesh could also be groomed to bat in the middle-order because the opening slot is packed with various options.
As for Chakravarthy, the team management had punted on his mystery element despite him carrying multiple injuries. However, he could barely trouble two quality teams in Pakistan and New Zealand. Dravid, as the head of NCA and coach of developmental sides, has been a staunch advocate of players coming through the system.
Looking for red-ball ‘keepers
While it is understood that Kohli will retain his Test captaincy, the new management is likely to some new investments in the Test squad. Dravid has been on the hunt to get wicketkeepers as backup for Rishabh Pant in the longer format of the game for a couple of years. Interestingly, the selectors have held back the team for the two-Test series.
The selectors may be tempted to keep KS Bharat in the Test team ahead of the 37-year-old Wriddhiman Saha, who has been warming the bench since he was dropped after the Adelaide Test last December.
Bharat, who has been a regular in India ‘A’ teams and had an impressive IPL last month, has not been kept in the ‘A’ team. The 25-year-old Railways wicketkeeper Upendra Yadav has been named in the ‘A’ team instead.
Test middle-order under scanner
It’s also learnt that the selectors have borrowed a little more time to deliberate on the future of Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara, who have struggled to hit form for three years now. There’s a line of thinking that Shubman Gill could also be asked to bat in the middle order. If Rohit doesn’t decide to rest in the Test series, he could also be elevated as the Test vice-captain.
With the South Africa tour on the heels of the New Zealand series, the selectors will have to take a call on trying a fresh middle-order at home before travelling abroad.
India’s T20I squad against NZ: Rohit Sharma (captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper), Venkatesh Iyer, Yuzvendra Chahal, R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Avesh Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Harshal Patel, Mohammed Siraj
India ‘A’ squad for South Africa tour: Priyank Panchal (captain), Prithvi Shaw, Abhimanyu Easwaran, Devdutt Padikkal, Sarfaraz Khan, Baba Aparajith, Upendra Yadav (wicketkeeper), K Gowtham, Rahul Chahar, Saurabh Kumar, Navdeep Saini, Umran Malik, Ishan Porel, Arzan Nagwaswalla

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