India will take on Australia with an almost full-strength team in the upcoming limited-overs home series, the last one before the ODI World Cup in England later this year.
India and Australia will play two T20Is and five one-dayers, the squads for which were announced on Friday.
While captain Virat Kohli and leading speedster Jasprit Bumrah will be back from rest, young Rishabh Pant too was among the newsmakers, as he made it to all three squads.
Bumrah was rested after he helped India win the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Australia earlier this year. Kohli was not a part of the latter half India’s tour to New Zealand.
Also back in the fold is opener KL Rahul. Rahul returned to the side after he was controversially called back midway through the tour of Australia following his and all-rounder Hardik Pandya’s loose talk on a TV show.
Kohli, Bumrah and Rahul will be available for all seven matches of the series, starting February 24.
Fast bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been picked only for the final three ODIs. Left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav is not part of the T20I squad. Punjab leg-spinner Mayank Markande has instead earned a call-up for the T20Is.
Pant, who has been one of the most talked about Indian cricketers following his fine performances in England and Australia, has got the nod for all the seven matches.
Pant will be the back-up wicketkeeping option to Mahendra Singh Dhoni, but he can also play as a specialist batsman.
Pant’s gain, however, seems to be Dinesh Karthik’s loss. Though Karthik is a part of the T20I squad, he has not been chosen for the ODIs. Karthik was criticised for his on-field decision-making during the final T20I against New Zealand in Hamilton which India lost. The Tamil Nadu veteran refused a single when Krunal Pandya was on a rampage at the other end.
Karthik’s chances of making it to the World Cup have become slimmer with the comeback of Rahul.
However, chairman of selectors MSK Prasad has insisted that it isn’t the end of the road for Karthik.
Pant, who has already scored centuries in Test cricket, is yet to get a significant knock in ODIs. But the youngster’s big-hitting prowess makes him a potential match-winner.
All-rounder Vijay Shankar has also silently crept into the selectors’ plans. The Tamil Nadu player, who performed decently in New Zealand, has been chosen for all seven games.
Meanwhile, Punjab seamer Siddarth Kaul seems to have joined the race for the fourth pacer’s slot. Kaul has been picked for the first two ODIs from which Bhuvneshwar has been rested.
There are no left-arm seamers in the squads with Khaleel Ahmed being dropped.
The first T20I, on February 24, is to be played in Visakhapatnam, while the second one will be in Bangalore. The five ODIs will be played in Hyderabad, Nagpur, Ranchi, Mohali and Delhi.