The BCCI on Wednesday announced the Indian squads for the ODI and T20I series against the West Indies starting on February 6. Rohit Sharma has recovered from injury and will formally take charge as permanent limited-overs captain.
There were a few surprises in the teams, as Kuldeep Yadav was given a recall. Baroda all-rounder Deepak Hooda has been given a much-deserved spot in the ODI side, as Washington Sundar also makes a comeback following a lengthy hiatus from the national side.
Young Indian Premier League superstars Avesh Khan and Ravi Bishnoi have also been given a call-up to both squads, as India look to start strong in Sharma’s first outing as captain.
India struggled with their middle-overs bowling in the South Africa series, particularly in the spin bowling department, as Ravi Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Yadav struggled to pick up wickets, managing only three in 59 overs across the entire series.
This has perhaps prompted the Indian team management to go back to the Kul-Cha combination, which gave them so much success a couple of years ago. However, Yadav is not the same bowler, having lost his form in a rather shocking decline, losing his place in both the international set-up, as well as in the IPL, with the Kolkata Knight Riders.
India have also picked recently drafted Lucknow Super Giants player Ravi Bishnoi, who has proven his ability to pick up wickets at crucial junctures of the game in the IPL. India will look to Bishnoi for breakthroughs, should he be given an opportunity against the Caribbean Kings in the ODI series.
Vice-captain KL Rahul, who is coming off the back of a humbling defeat at the hands of the Proteas in his first assignment as captain, also finds a mention in the squad. However, the newly-appointed deputy will miss the first ODI, but is confirmed to be available for the rest of the series.
Senior fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami have been rested for the entire series, with Avesh Khan finding a spot in both the ODI and T20I squads. Veteran pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been left out of the ODI squad but is a part of the T20I team.
There were some rumours being circulated that Virat Kohli might be rested for the Windies series, but those turned out to be false as the former Indian skipper has been named in both squads. Sharma, who missed what should have been his first series as white-ball captain against the Proteas due to a hamstring injury, is also leading the race to become India’s Test captain as well, after Virat Kohli stepped down post the series defeat against the South Africans, ending a dominant tenure as captain of the red-ball side.
There was no mention of Hardik Pandya, who has been appointed as captain of the Ahmedabad franchise for Rs. 15 Crore. He is believed to be working on his fitness after repeated injuries forced him out of the squad. Pandya has not bowled much in his recent appearances for India, and that is an aspect that he has been working on.
Hooda’s inclusion in the ODI squad appears to be the only surprising pick. Hooda scored a century against Karnataka in the quarter-finals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy but had an ordinary campaign otherwise, scoring 198 runs in six innings, at an average of 33. He did well in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy, amassing 294 runs at an excellent strike rate of 168.
Hooda joined Rajasthan in 2021 after a falling out with the Baroda squad, after a dust-up with the Pandya brothers. There are some who have argued that veteran Rishi Dhawan fit the bill for the Indian team better than Hooda. Dhawan was the second-highest run-getter as well as the second-best wicket-taker in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, where he enjoyed a stellar campaign for Himachal Pradesh.
India will take on the Windies in three ODIs at Ahmedabad between February 6-11 and will subsequently travel to Kolkata for three T20Is beginning on February 16.