Kohli and Rohit return to India’s T20I squad for Afghanistan series

Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have returned to India’s T20I squad after an absence of more than a year from the format for the three-match series against Afghanistan, India’s last T20I series before the T20 World Cup in June.
Rohit and Kohli have not played T20Is since India’s semi-final defeat to England in the T20 World Cup in November 2022, choosing to prioritise Test cricket and ODIs in the lead-up to the World Test Championship final and the ODI World Cup in 2023. Their selection now, which comes after India’s chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar flew to South Africa during the New Year’s Test in Cape Town, means that both players are back in India’s plans for the upcoming T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the USA.
India have mostly been led by Hardik in T20Is since the 2022 T20 World Cup, and Suryakumar stood in as captain after Hardik injured his ankle during the 2023 ODI World Cup. Suryakumar led India in the five-match T20I series at home against Australia and the three T20Is in South Africa in December but has also been ruled out for a couple of months because of an ankle injury he picked up in South Africa. Both Hardik and Suryakumar are expected to return for the IPL in March.
Ruturaj Gaikwad hasn’t been picked as he continues to nurse a finger injury that he picked up in South Africa last month. There is no place for KL Rahul in the 15-member squad, while Ishan Kishan has opted out, citing the need for a break to help him refocus on his game. Kishan also missed the two-Test series in South Africa for the same reason.
Wicketkeeper Jitesh Sharma, who was part of the T20I series against both the Australia and South Africa recently, retained his spot and Sanju Samson, who hasn’t been in India’s T20I plans since touring Ireland with a second-string squad in August last year, comes in as his back-up. Samson struck his maiden international century during the ODI leg of the South Africa tour last month.
Mumbai allrounder Shivam Dube also gets another crack in T20Is following an impressive IPL 2023 where he was Chennai Super Kings’ spin-hitter in the middle overs. Dube was most recently part of India’s second-string squad that clinched the Asian Games gold in Hangzhou in October last year. From there, he went into the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 trophy and produced some useful cameos for Mumbai batting down the order. His role with the ball, though, was minimal.

Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj have been rested keeping in mind their workloads ahead of the upcoming five-Test series at home against England. Also missing are Shreyas Iyer and Ravindra Jadeja, who was vice-captain during the South Africa T20Is that India drew 1-1. Jadeja missed the first Test against South Africa because of a neck spasm.

Deepak Chahar, who was named for the South Africa T20Is but didn’t take part due to a personal emergency, misses out altogether, with the selectors continuing with Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan and Mukesh Kumar. Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar and Ravi Bishnoi form the spin attack. Kuldeep, who picked a five-for in his most recent T20I in South Africa, picked up three wickets for Uttar Pradesh in the first-round Ranji Trophy fixture against Kerala.

Following the three T20Is against Afghanistan on January 11, 14 and 17, India host England from January 25 to March 11, after which the players will disperse to join their respective IPL teams for the 2024 season, which will conclude only a couple of weeks before the T20 World Cup begins on June 1.

India’s T20I squad for series vs Afghanistan

Rohit Sharma (capt), Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Tilak Varma, Rinku Singh, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Axar Patel, Ravi Bishnoi, Kuldeep Yadav, Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan, Mukesh Kumar

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