CHENNAI: Bhuvneshwar Kumar's omission and the inclusion of Deepak Hooda were the big headlines in India's 18-man squad for the ODIs against West Indies to be played in Ahmedabad from February 6.
Rajasthan's 21-year-old leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi received a maiden call-up to the ODI and T20 squads to be captained by Rohit Sharma as the selectors also recalled wrist-spinner, Kuldeep Yadav, to the side. Keeping the workload in mind, pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami have been rested for the series and will be available when Sri Lanka comes calling at the end of February.
As reported by The New Indian Express, from the team that played in South Africa, R Ashwin didn't make the cut because of a niggle and Venkatesh Iyer has been dropped. However, he finds a place in the T20I team. It is understood that the selectors went by the feedback of the team management and believe the all-rounder needs time to develop into a regular option in the 50-overs format.
Himachal Pradesh's Rishi Dhawan and Tamil Nadu's Shahrukh Khan were also discussed for ODIs and T20Is respectively but were overlooked as the duo may not get game time. The latter especially is being closely monitored as he remains on the radar.
While the two had performed exceedingly well in the domestic tournaments and were worthy of a call-up, the inclusion of Hooda and Kuldeep is surprising. In fact, the former didn't really have a good outing with the bat for Rajasthan in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and was not even in the list of the team's top-three run makers. In 74 List A matches, Hooda averages 38.25 with only four hundreds and 12 fifties to his name. The 26-year-old who moved to Rajasthan this season after a fall-out with Baroda captain Krunal Pandya did have a good outing in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s, finishing as the second-highest run-scorer.
With regards to Kuldeep, who last played for India during the tour of Sri Lanka in July before missing the second-leg of the IPL because of a knee injury, it is understood that the selectors went for the left-arm wrist-spinner as he can be a wicket-taking option in the middle-overs. Kuldeep will enter the series short on match-practice as he missed the Syed Mushtaq Ali and Vijay Hazare Trophy as he was still recovering from the injury. With Yuzvendra Chahal also around, it also signals India going back to the wrist-spinners in the ODIs, with at least one of them to play a role with Ravindra Jadeja being a certainty once he is back.
And as expected, there was no place for Bhuvneshwar, whose poor performance continued in the ODIs against South Africa. With his replacement Deepak Chahar performing well in the third ODI, the selectors have decided to persist with him going forward.
Others who have made comeback to the squad include Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Avesh Khan, and Harshal Patel. Meanwhile, vice-captain KL Rahul will not be available for the first ODI.
ODI squad: Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (Vice-captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Surya Kumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohd. Siraj, Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan
T20I squad: Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (Vice-captain), Ishan Kishan, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Surya Kumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Venkatesh Iyer, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Ravi Bishnoi, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Washington Sundar, Mohd. Siraj, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Avesh Khan, Harshal Patel.