Shreyas Iyer and Mohammed Siraj earned call-ups to India’s Twenty20 International squad for the three-match series against New Zealand. Both Iyer, the Mumbai batsman, and Siraj, the Hyderabad pacer, have been in good form in domestic cricket and been regulars in India A sides.
Kedar Jadhav was dropped from the T20I side that will play matches scheduled on November 1, 4 and 7 in New Delhi, Rajkot and Thiruvananthapuram respectively.
The opening T20I of the series will mark Ashish Nehra’s finale, the veteran left-arm pacer having announced his intention to retire from all cricket after that game. Nehra has thus been included only for the first game.
The selectors also announced a 16-man squad for the first two Tests of a three-match series against Sri Lanka that will follow after the New Zealand T20Is. M Vijay returns to take his place after having recovered from a wrist injury. Abhinav Mukund, who was part of the side that won 3-0 in Sri Lanka in July-August, misses out, as does Axar Patel. Axar had been flown in as cover for Ravindra Jadeja in the third Test, after the Saurashtra allrounder was suspended for one match for breaching the ICC Code of Conduct.
MSK Prasad, the chairman of the selection panel, said on Monday (October 23) that both Iyer and Siraj had been selected due to their consistent showing at the domestic and India A levels. Iyer hit 140 not out off 131 balls in the tri-series final against South Africa A, where Afghanistan A was the third team in July. Against New Zealand A at home, he struck a century in the unofficial four-day ‘Test’ and three scores of fifty-plus, including a century, in four one-dayers. Iyer has been Mumbai’s highest run-getter in the last three Ranji Trophy seasons.
Siraj made a splash last year with 41 wickets, the third highest tally in the season, which helped Hyderabad reach the quarterfinals of the Ranji Trophy. Siraj was also picked up by Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL 2017 auction for Rs 2.6 crore.
“Shreyas Iyer has been prolific in all forms of the game, be it four-day format, be it one-dayers or T20s, be it IPL, he has been performing,” said Prasad. “We will stick with this policy that if we pick a player, we will give him an extended run, and we will continue with him for some point and nurture him and see that he goes on to become successful. So is the case with Siraj. He is doing well, he has been duly rewarded.”
On the retiring Nehra, Prasad said his panel had communicated to the 38-year-old that they were looking at him only till the New Zealand T20I series, after which the pacer decided to call it quits after the first match itself so that he could retire on his home ground at the Feroze Shah Kotla.
“There is a lot of apprehension going on about Ashish Nehra. I will make it very clear and candid, you all know that communication has been our strong point,” held Prasad. “We have clearly communicated to the player, that is Ashish Nehra, and to the team management that we are only looking at him till the New Zealand series.
“If you see the pattern with which we have selected the India A players, we have been continuing for the past one and a half years with the same bowlers on all the ‘A’ tours. That means they are very much in line. They have really done well in South Africa, also at home against New Zealand. This message has been clearly communicated and we are very happy that the player (Nehra) also took it in the right spirit that the new generation is coming up. Instead of waiting till the end of the New Zealand series, he felt that the Delhi game itself he will quit, so that the others can (get a chance).”
Prasad, though, remained non-committal on whether Nehra would be part of the XI that takes the field in Delhi, deferring to the team management. “Whether he is going to play or not, it is clearly for the team management and the selector (on tour) to make a call, whoever it is. There is no assurance from our side that he’s going to play or not. It will be decided by the team management.”
On why there was a 16-man squad for the home Tests against Sri Lanka, Prasad said it was to ensure all facets were covered, but said that in view of the domestic season being underway, players could be released to play for their respective states if they weren’t needed in the Test squad.
“We have covered different aspects. We have strengthened every department. We have covered everything,” said Prasad. “With so much of domestic cricket going on, some of the players can be released for domestic games, we will definitely work on that. From September 1, the new rules have come with regard to a 16-member squad. Even a wicketkeeper can be substituted with a wicketkeeper.”
Sri Lanka will play a two-day warm-up fixture on November 11 and 12 against a Board President’s XI before the first Test in Kolkata from November 16. The selectors have picked the side from the four teams that will not be taking part in the Ranji Trophy 2017-18 round during those dates — Hyderabad, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab. Naman Ojha will lead the Board President’s XI side.
India T20I squad: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma (vice-capt), KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Ashish Nehra (only for first T20I).
India Test squad: Virat Kohli (capt), KL Rahul, M Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-capt), Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma.
Board President’s XI: Naman Ojha (capt, wk), Sanju Samson, Jiwanjot Singh, B Sandeep, Tanmay Agarwal, Abhishek Gupta, Rohan Prem, Akash Bhandari, Jalaj Saxena, C V Milind, Avesh Khan, Sandeep Warrier, Ravi Kiran.