T20 World Cup: Dhoni mentor, Ashwin back
More than four years after being dropped from India’s T20 side, Ravichandran Ashwin has been included in the 15-member World Cup squad to be held in the UAE in October-November.
In a major overhaul, the BCCI also named Mahendra Singh Dhoni as team mentor for the tournament and will work closely with head coach Ravi Shastri and the rest of the support staff to “provide support and direction”, according to secretary Jay Shah.
Among the notable absentees are Shikhar Dhawan, who led India in the limited-overs series in Sri Lanka, and wrist spinner Yuzvendra Chahal. The selection committee headed by Chetan Sharma decided to pick mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy and leg spinner Rahul Chahar instead.
Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan, who made their T20I debuts during the home series against England, have also found a place in the XV.
The Telegraph had reported on Tuesday that both Surya and Rahul Chahar were set to make the squad.
Shreyas Iyer, who has recovered from a shoulder injury, has been named as part of the reserves along with Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar.
As is evident, the BCCI decided to reward performers in the IPL while keeping some of the tried and tested names outside with stress on youth.
Shah said he spoke to Dhoni in Dubai and captain Virat Kohli and vice-captain Rohit Sharma too agreed to having the former World Cup-winning captain as mentor. Sources, however, told The Telegraph that BCCI president Sourav Ganguly also played a key role in getting Dhoni on board.
The former India captain has always expressed concern about India’s inability to win an ICC trophy since the Champions Trophy triumph in 2013. Dhoni won three ICC trophies under his leadership and having him in the dressing room will help in planning strategy and its implementation.
The squad includes five spinners — Ravindra Jadeja, Rahul Chahar, Ashwin, Axar Patel and Chakravarthy. This has been done keeping in mind the slow and low conditions in the UAE.
“We needed an off-spinner. Since Washington Sundar is injured, we decided to include Ashwin,” said chief selector Sharma.
Ashwin, who last played a T20I in the West Indies in July 2017, played a key role in Delhi Capitals reaching the final in IPL 2020 picking up 13 wickets in 15 games at an economy of 7.66.
With several of the lefthanders regarded as big hitters, the presence of the experienced Ashwin could provide the much-needed variation in the attack.
Ashwin, who has been ignored in the four Tests in England, posted a quote on Twitter after his selection which read: “Every tunnel has Light at the end of it but only those in the tunnel who believe in the Light will Live to see it..”
Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Rahul Chahar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Varun Chakravarthy, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Sham
Reserves: Shreyas Iyer, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar