NEW DELHI: India’s out-of-form star batter Virat Kohli was missing from the 18-member squad announced by selectors Thursday for the upcoming five-match Twenty20 series in the West Indies.
Former captain Kohli, 33, has been going through a prolonged lean patch and has not hit a century since 2019, with his future now a matter of intense public debate in his cricket-obsessed country.
The Indian cricket board (BCCI), which rarely explains team selection, did not specify if Kohli had finally been dropped or was merely being rested over injury concerns ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia.
With a number of in-form batter pushing for a top order berth, Kohli’s place in the Twenty20 squad has been questioned, especially ahead of this year’s World Cup in Australia.
Former coach Ravi Shastri has advised Kohli to take a break from the game and return rejuvenated.
BCCI president Sourav Ganguly has backed the 33-year-old to regain his form.
“He himself knows by his own standards it has not been good and I see him coming back and doing well,” Ganguly told Reuters partner ANI.
“But he has got to find his way and become successful, which he has been for the last 12-13 years or more and only Virat Kohli can do that.”
Seamer Jasprit Bumrah, currently the top-ranked ODI bowler, has also been rested considering the workload of India’s all-format pace spearhead.
Ace off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin returned to the T20 format, as will opener KL Rahul and left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav if they prove their fitness to confirm their spots.
India’s all-format captain Rohit Sharma will lead the pace-heavy squad with several breakthrough stars from the Indian Premier League T20 tournament.
The five matches will be played at three venues in Trinidad, St Kitts and Lauderhill in the US state of Florida.
Squad: Rohit Sharma (captain), Ishan Kishan, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravi Bishnoi, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Avesh Khan, Harshal Patel, Arshdeep Singh.
Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2022