Experienced left-handed batsmen Yuvraj Singh and Shikhar Dhawan have been named in a 15-man India squad for the upcoming three-match One-Day International series against England. The five-member senior selection panel, headed by MSK Prasad, also officially announced Virat Kohli as captain of the ODI and T20I teams. The 28-year-old Kohli takes over the limited-overs sides from MS Dhoni, who stepped down from the post earlier this week after leading India in 331 games across formats.
Dhoni has been named as the specialist wicket-keeper-batsman. Uncapped player Rishabh Pant has been named in the T20 International squad. Among the notable omissions is Ajinkya Rahane. He has been dropped from the T20 team and Pant replaces him as a batsman who will also be Dhoni’s understudy in limited overs for the time being.
"We know what Mahi is all about, he is a captain by nature, a leader from the front,” Mr. Prasad showered accolades on the outgoing captain.
Yuvraj, 35, last played an ODI in December 2013. He was part of India's T20I squad last year, and returns to the ODI squad after scoring 672 runs in five Ranji Trophy games for Punjab this season. Newly-wed Yuvraj has a fabulous ODI record against England. In 34 games, Yuvraj Singh has scored 1,313 runs at an average of 48, with three hundreds.
The major talking point of the announcement was the return of the 35-year-old Yuvraj, who also finds a mention in the T20I squad. The flamboyant left-hander, who played the last of his 293 ODIs so far in 2013, scored 672 runs from five Ranji Trophy games this season at an average of 84. His exploits in the domestic circuit included two hundreds and as many half-centuries.
"We should appreciate how Yuvraj has played. He did extremely well in domestic cricket, which has been appreciated,” Mr. Prasad told mediapersons.
Suresh Raina, who missed that series in October due to illness despite being named in the squad, loses out on the middle-order place to Manish Pandey, with the selectors keeping faith in the Karnataka batsman despite lukewarm returns against New Zealand (76 runs from 5 matches at 19.00). Raina is in the T20I squad, having last played for India in March. Rahane was dropped from the T20I squad.
Meanwhile, India welcome back veteran seamer Ashish Nehra in the T20 squad. The 37-year-old seamer, who earned a shock recall ahead of last year's T20I assignment in Australia, picked up a hamstring injury during the IPL and experienced a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
The ODIs will be played in Pune (January 15), Cuttack (January 19) and Kolkata (January 22). The T20Is will be held in Kanpur (January 26), Nagpur (January 29) and Bangalore (February 1).
Squad for the three-match ODI series:
KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), MS Dhoni (wk), Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Hardik Pandya, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav
Squad for the three-match T20I series:
KL Rahul, Mandeep Singh, Virat Kohli (c), MS Dhoni (wk), Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Manish Pandey, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashish Nehra
But there was a lot of drama before the team selection meeting as the BCCI was confused about how many selectors should pick the squads. The MSK Prasad committee is a five-member panel while the Lodha panel had suggested a three-member panel, all with international experience. However, all five attended the meeting that was chaired by BCCI CEO Rahul Johri.