Amid all the build-up to the historic day-night Test in Kolkata, the selectors had got together (possibly for the last time under MSK Prasad’s leadership) on Thursday with Virat Kohli for naming the squads for India’s final assignments of 2019.

Kohli will return to lead the team in white-ball cricket after a mini-break, against the visiting West Indies side starting next month.

Besides Kohli, fast bowlers Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and spin-bowling all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja have also made a comeback to India’s T20 squad as did Kuldeep Yadav.

Senior batsman Rohit Sharma had captained the Twenty20 team in the limited-overs series against Bangladesh in Kohli’s absence and was expected to be given a rest. But he continues to feature in both the sides.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson and pacers Khaleel Ahmed and Shardul Thakur, who were part of India’s squad against Bangladesh, were left out. As was Krunal Pandya, whose wicket-taking drought has seemingly resulted in the axe, with Kuldeep getting the nod once again. It was not long ago that Kohli made a point that he would like to see some depth added to the batting lineup by bowlers who can bat but with Krunal unable to take wickets, Kuldeep gets reunited with Yuzvendra Chahal as India go back to the wrist-spin twins.

Before we look at the key talking points, here is a confirmation of the two squads:

India’s squad for 3 ODIs: Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma (VC), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant, Shivam Dube, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Deepak Chahar, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar

India’s squad for 3 T20Is: Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma (VC), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant, Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Deepak Chahar, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Too much sameness

Go on, take a second and go through the list above again. What strikes you the most?

Yes, the fact that there is only ONE name different between the two 15-member squads.

For a long time, India have been accused of not differentiating between the two white-ball formats. Despite being a country that has been at the forefront of the T20 revolution (from winning the first World T20 to changing the game with IPL), India has somehow never got its combinations right when it comes to the shortest format in the international arena. Often in the past, same squads were named for ODIs and T20Is when the team was touring abroad. And now, after trying out a few names to start the home season, we are back to a scenario where there is a similar look to the ODI and T20I squads.

Maybe this is the case of India treating the ODIs also as a platform to test the white-ball skills for certain players to be picked in the T20I squads. But given that’s not how things have turned out in the past, it’s unlikely to be the case. India, strangely, continues to treat all white-ball cricket as one. Which could explain the lack of success at the T20 World Cups since the inaugural tournament: where India were champions for being bold with their selections.

Kedar Jadhav: why?

There is only question to be asked there. Why? What has Kedar Jadhav done to earn a call-up to the ODI squad? What has changed since the World Cup where he was dropped for the last couple of matches to convince the selectors to go back to him? He has been lacklustre during the domestic tournaments as well since the World Cup: in his last 10 domestic white-ball outings, he has gone past 50 only twice. He is almost 35 years old, so clearly not an option for the long term. He is neither a brilliant batsman to shore up the middle order, nor a great bowler to be used regularly as a fifth or sixth option. But somehow he keeps getting selected.

Do the selectors really think that Jadhav is an option for the 2023 ODI World Cup? Even if he does not play in the XI, do they think having him in the squad is better than blooding youngsters?

It is, honestly, beyond incredible.

Sanju Samson: a missed chance

Samson must be wondering what he did wrong. After his double century in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, he was rightly called up for the T20Is against Bangladesh. But all he did was watch on from the sidelines as Rishabh Pant got the nod behind the stumps and no other slot opened up in the batting order. In an ideal world, KL Rahul would have opened with Rohit Sharma and Samson would have got three matches to impress at No 3 in the batting lineup. But, Indian cricket continues to trust in Dhawan coming good when everyone else thinks he has been given a long rope. The defeat in Delhi in the opening match did not help his cause either, as the third game of the series became the decider.

Samson told ESPNCricinfo recently, “I’m mature enough and experienced enough to understand that things will happen.” And if his tweet on the morning after the squads was any indication, he seems to be walking the talk.

Now more than ever, Samson will need to believe that his chance will come. Either as a pure batsman or as a ‘keeper-batsman, a slot will open up for him. The only thing he can do is to keep knocking at the door. It’s unfortunate for Samson (and Rahul Chahar too, but to a lesser extent because he doesn’t quite have the history with selections like the Kerala batsman), but he must take a leaf out of Mayank Agarwal’s book and buckle down.

Deepak Chahar’s rise continues

From a powerplay-only bowler in IPL, to a powerplay-only bowler for India, to a bowler who can also bowl at the death in any scenario, and then, to a bowler who bowls all the high pressure overs and delivers for his captain: Deepak Chahar’s rise has been sensational in the last year or so. After his hat-trick in Nagpur against Bangladesh, Deepak returned to the Rajasthan side and picked up three wickets in an over twice at the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament as well.

He revealed in an interview recently that one of the reasons behind him doing so well against Bangladesh was the trust Rohit Sharma placed in him. He was told to be the Jasprit Bumrah for the inexperienced attack, and Deepak responded in style. And as Bumrah continues to recuperate, Chahar gets a chance in the ODIs too. He has a big opportunity to feature his name among the best white-ball options India have in the pace bowling department.