In a significant development, Indian cricket fans have reason to rejoice as star players Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are set to make a comeback in the T20 International (T20I) squad for the upcoming series against Afghanistan. The dynamic duo, absent from T20Is since November 2022, opted to focus on Test and ODIs for major tournaments like the World Test Championship final and the ODI World Cup in 2023. However, a recent selection decision by India’s chairman of selectors, Ajit Agarkar, during the New Year’s Test in Cape Town, paves the way for their return to the T20 fold. Rohit Sharma will lead the team, with regular captains Hardik Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav sidelined due to injuries. This three-match series against Afghanistan serves as a crucial preparatory platform ahead of the T20 World Cup scheduled for June.
Rohit and Kohli’s Comeback
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are back in India’s T20I team after not playing for over a year. They’ll be playing in the three-match series against Afghanistan, which is India’s last T20I series before the T20 World Cup in June. Rohit will be the captain because the players who led in his absence, Hardik Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav, are injured and can’t play.
Prior Focus on Tests and ODIs
Rohit and Kohli didn’t play T20Is since November 2022. They chose to focus on Test and ODIs for the World Test Championship final and the ODI World Cup in 2023. Now, after a selection decision by India’s chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar during the New Year’s Test in Cape Town, they’re back in India’s T20 plans for the upcoming the West Indies and the USA are set to host the upcoming T20 World Cup.
Injury Woes and Captaincy Changes
Hardik usually leads India in T20Is since the 2022 T20 World Cup. Suryakumar became captain when Hardik got hurt in the 2023 ODI World Cup. Suryakumar led the team in T20I series against Australia and South Africa in December, but he’s also out for a couple of months due to an ankle injury from South Africa. Both Hardik and Suryakumar are anticipated to make a comeback for the IPL in March.
Notable Exclusions from the Squad
Ruturaj Gaikwad got hurt in South Africa, so he’s not playing. KL Rahul isn’t in the squad either. Ishan Kishan decided to take a break to concentrate better on his game. He also missed the South Africa Test series for the same reason.
New Faces in the Squad
Jitesh Sharma, the wicketkeeper who played in the T20I series against Australia and South Africa, is still in the team. Sanju Samson, who hasn’t been in India’s T20I plans since August last year, is now the backup. Samson scored his first international century in the ODI series against South Africa last month. Mumbai’s Shivam Dube is back in the T20I team after doing well in IPL 2023 with Chennai Super Kings. He was part of India’s second-string squad that won the Asian Games gold last October. Later, he played in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 trophy for Mumbai, making useful contributions with the bat. However, he didn’t get many chances to bowl.
Notable Omissions and Inclusions in the Bowling Unit
Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj are taking a break to rest before the important five-Test series against England. Shreyas Iyer and Ravindra Jadeja, who was the vice-captain in the recent South Africa T20Is (which India drew 1-1), are also not playing. Jadeja missed the first Test against South Africa because of a neck issue. Deepak Chahar was supposed to play in the South Africa T20Is but had to skip due to a personal emergency. He’s not in the team this time. Instead, they chose Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan, and Mukesh Kumar. The spinners are Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, and Ravi Bishnoi. Kuldeep did well, taking five wickets in his last T20I in South Africa and three wickets for Uttar Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy against Kerala.
Upcoming Schedule and IPL Connection
After playing three T20Is against Afghanistan on January 11, 14, and 17, India will have a series against England from January 25 to March 11. After that, the players will go play for their IPL teams in the 2024 season. The IPL will finish just a couple of weeks before the T20 World Cup begins on June 1.
India’s T20I Team for Afghanistan Series
- Rohit Sharma (captain)
- 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
The return of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli to India’s T20I squad adds immense strength and experience as the team gears up for the upcoming series against Afghanistan and, more importantly, the T20 World Cup. The absence of key players like Hardik Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav provides opportunities for newer faces to showcase their talent. With a blend of seasoned campaigners and emerging talents, Indian cricket enthusiasts eagerly anticipate an exciting series against Afghanistan and look forward to a successful T20 World Cup campaign later in the year.
Q1. Why did Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli skip T20Is for over a year?
A1. Both players chose to focus on Test and ODIs, participating in events like the World Test Championship final and the ODI World Cup in 2023.
Q2. Who led the Indian T20I team in Rohit and Kohli’s absence, and why are they not leading now?
A2. Hardik Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav led the team, but they are currently sidelined due to injuries, paving the way for Rohit Sharma’s captaincy.
Q3. Why are Hardik Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav not playing in the Afghanistan series, and when are they expected to return?
A3. Both players are recovering from injuries and are anticipated to return for the Indian Premier League (IPL) in March.
Q4. Who are the notable exclusions from the T20I squad, and what are the reasons?
A4. Players like Ruturaj Gaikwad, KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Shreyas Iyer, and Ravindra Jadeja are excluded due to various reasons, including injuries, breaks, and rest ahead of crucial Test series.
Q5. Who are the new additions to the T20I squad for the Afghanistan series, and what is their recent form?
A5. Shivam Dube, Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan, and Mukesh Kumar are included. Dube’s impressive performance in IPL 2023 and Arshdeep Singh’s presence in the second-string squad winning the Asian Games gold are notable.