Ind vs NZ T20Is: Rohit to lead; Kohli, Bumrah, Hardik absent

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Gaikwad, Venkatesh, Harshal and Avesh called up; Chahal returns; Rahul Chahar and Chakravarthy left out

Kohli and outgoing head coach Ravi Shastri have endorsed Rohit’s candidature for the T20I captaincy, but it’s not yet known if he has been given the role permanently. For now, the only communication from the BCCI is a terse press release announcing the squad for the upcoming three-match home T20I series against New Zealand, which begins on November 17.

The squad is without a number of first-choice players, among whom are Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami. All four have been on the road virtually non-stop since the start of India’s tour of England – which began with the World Test Championship final in June – which was followed by the IPL and then the T20 World Cup, which India exited at the Super 12s stage. The allrounder Hardik Pandya and the fast bowler Shardul Thakur are also absent from the squad.

Of the players who were part of India’s squads for both the England tour and the T20 World Cup, only Rohit, Rahul, Rishabh Pant, R Ashwin and Suryakumar Yadav – who was flown in to the UK as a replacement for the injured Shubman Gill – have stayed on to face New Zealand.

There are four new or virtually new faces in the squad. The opening batter Ruturaj Gaikwad, who was the leading run-getter in IPL 2021, made his T20I debut when he was part of a second-string India squad that toured Sri Lanka in July. The allrounder Venkatesh Iyer and fast bowlers Harshal Patel and Avesh Khan, however, are yet to play for India.
The legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who enjoyed a strong finish to the IPL season in the UAE after he had been a surprise exclusion from the T20 World Cup squad, makes a comeback, with the man who replaced him, Rahul Chahar, missing out. Also out of the squad is the mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy, who went wicketless over three World Cup games.
Middle-order batter Shreyas Iyer, who was left out of the World Cup squad since he had been out of match practice since recovering from a shoulder injury, returns, as does the left-arm spinner Axar Patel, who was originally part of the World Cup squad, only to be replaced at the last minute by Thakur.

This series will be first one under the charge of new India coach Rahul Dravid.

The BCCI also announced the India A team that will touring South Africa for three four-day matches starting November 23. Opener Prithvi Shaw and fast bowler Umran Malik are part of this team.

India A squad for South Africa tour: Priyank Panchal (capt), Prithvi Shaw, Abhimanyu Easwaran, Devdutt Padikkal, Sarfaraz Khan, B Aparajith, Upendra Yadav (wk), K Gowtham, Rahul Chahar, Saurabh Kumar, Navdeep Saini, Umran Malik, Ishan Porel, Arzan Nagwaswalla



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