India has made a strong start to their tour of South Africa, winning the first of three Tests in Centurion. The team appears to be in good shape and will be trying to win their first series in South Africa. After the Test series concludes, India will play a three-match ODI series from January 19. On Friday, BCCI announced an 18-member squad for the series.
Rohit Sharma, who is yet to recover from a hamstring injury, was the most notable absence from the squad. Rohit is improving on his fitness, according to Chetan Sharma, head of the BCCI selection committee, and selectors did not want to take a chance with him.
- KL Rahul, the new ODI captain
In Rohit’s absence, KL Rahul will lead the squad, while Jasprit Bumrah has been promoted as vice-captain for the first time. Ravichandran Ashwin has rejoined the team after a four-year absence, having last played an ODI in June 2017 against the West Indies. Ruturaj Gaikwad has been selected for his first ODI appearance.
The development was confirmed by BCCI Chairman of Selectors Chetan Sharma in a virtual press conference. Sharma stated, “We are looking at KL Rahul as a three-format player, and he has got good experience of captaincy. He has proved his leadership qualities. That is what all selectors think. When Rohit is not fit, we thought KL is the best one to handle the side. We have good confidence in him, and we are grooming him.”
Shikhar Dhawan has kept his spot in the team and will most likely open with Rahul at the top of the order. Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel will remain on the bench as they haven’t fully recovered from their injuries. In the absence of Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar will get a chance to reclaim his form. Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Prasidh Krishna, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur & Mohammed Siraj will lead the bowling department.
The opening batters for the one-day series against South Africa are Rituraj Gaikwad and all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer. They had both performed admirably in the Vijay Hazare tournament. Gaikwad scored 603 runs at an average of 150.75 in five matches, including four centuries. In this event, Venkatesh Iyer has also scored over 70 runs.
- Importance of Hitman
For the Indian cricket squad, the years 2022 and 2023 are crucial. The Twenty20 World Cup will be contested in Australia in October. After that, India will host the ICC World Cup for the first time in 12 years. The decision to rest Rohit Sharma for the South Africa tour was based on keeping him fit for these two events, according to Chetan Sharma.
“This is the only reason we’ve decided to let him focus on his rehab, fitness, and muscle development.” Nobody injures themselves on purpose. This is precisely why we did not send him to South Africa; we want him to return to full fitness because there are critical events and world cups coming”, Chetan Sharma said.
India ODI squad for South Africa
KL Rahul (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Venkatesh Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Yuzvendra Chahal, R Ashwin, Washington Sundar, Jasprit Bumrah (VC), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Prasidh Krishna, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj