The Board of Control for Cricket in India announced the squad for the three-match One-Day International series against South Africa on Sunday afternoon. Shikhar Dhawan, Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were included in the 15-member squad, which will be led by Virat Kohli.
Rohit Sharma, India’s vice-captain in the one-day format, was not included due to the calf injury he is still recovering from.
Dhawan, Pandya and Kumar will be making a comeback to international cricket after a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to injuries.
India will play South Africa in three ODIs – on March 12 in Dharamshala, on March 15 in Lucknow and on March 18 in Kolkata.
The announcement could mean curtains for veteran Kedar Jadhav as Shubman Gill returns in the white-ball fold.
Rohit is yet to fully recuperate from his calf muscle injury and is expected to return to action during the Indian Premier League later this month. Thus, Prithvi Shaw retained his place in the ODI squad, while Mayank Agarwal, after a dismal New Zealand tour, had to make way for Dhawan.
The Mumbai duo of Shardul Thakur and Shivam Dube paid for their shoddy showing in New Zealand as Pandya and Bhuvneshwar rightfully got their places back.
The headline, of course, was Hardik Pandya’s comeback, with India struggling for balance in his absence. His last ODI was against New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final in Manchester and the last international game was a T20 against the Proteas in Bengaluru in September.
His absence affected the balance of the ODI side as Dube’s underwhelming show in the 14 chances he got showed that he is still not cut out for international cricket.
Pandya’s performances at the DY Patil Corporate Cup was not about the 150 odd he scored or the wickets he took but was about how fit he looked out there in the middle.
At the same time, the soon-to-be-35 Jadhav, who has stopped bowling in ODIs and is also not doing well batting at the No 6 slot, has been finally dropped from the side.
With the next 50-over World Cup in 2023 when Jadhav will be 38, it is highly unlikely that he will add to his 73 ODIs.
Mumbaikar Thakur, who did improve as a batsman, leaked runs during the T20s as well as ODIs. Bhuvneshwar’s experience as a swing and seam bowler was sorely missed in New Zealand conditions. With Mohammed Shami rested for this series, Bhuvneshwar’s presence will also be a bit of respite for Jasprit Bumrah, who himself is going through a rough patch.
The three ODIs will be played in Dharamsala (March 12), Lucknow (March 15) and Kolkata (March 18).
Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Virat Kohli (C), KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Shubman Gill.