Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni were rested, and Rohit Sharma was named captain of the Indian squad for the tri-nation Twenty20 International series, also featuring Bangladesh.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav were the other players from the T20I squad that won 2-1 in South Africa to be rested for the tri-series. It left India with an inexperienced pace attack, with Mohammed Siraj returning to join Jaydev Unadkat and Shardul Thakur.
Also making comebacks were Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar and Rishabh Pant. Hooda was part of the Indian squad for the home T20I series against Sri Lanka in December but did not play a game, while Washington featured in one One-Day International and one T20I in that series.
Hooda was in terrific form in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, scoring 352 runs for Baroda from seven innings at a strike-rate of 113.18. Pant, the wicketkeeper-batsman, has played two T20Is for India, the last of which came in July in West Indies.
Vijay Shankar, the uncapped Tamil Nadu allrounder, also made it to the squad. Vijay was a part of the Indian squad for the second and third Tests against Sri Lanka last year but did not make it to the XI.
“We’ve kept in mind the workload and upcoming schedule while finalising the team for Nidahas Trophy,” MSK Prasad, the chief selector, said in a statement on Sunday (February 25). “The high-performance team has suggested that adequate rest should be given to our fast bowlers to help improve athletic performance, maximize rest and prevent injury.
“Mr MS Dhoni was not available for selection as he had requested for rest.”
There was, however, no place for Mayank Agarwal, the Karnataka opener who has been in terrific form. He made a match-winning 81 in the Vijay Hazare Trophy semifinal on Saturday in front of the national selectors, taking his overall tally to 2051 runs across three formats in the 2017-18 domestic season.
The tournament starts with India taking on Sri Lanka on March 6, with the final scheduled for March 18.
Squad: Rohit Sharma (Capt), Shikhar Dhawan (vice-capt), KL Rahul, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Rishabh Pant (wk), Vijay Shankar, Shardul Thakur, Jaydev Unadkat, Mohammed Siraj.