Emerging stars Umran Malik and Mohsin Khan and seasoned warhorses Shikhar Dhawan and Dinesh Karthik may be rewarded for their performances in the Indian Premier League with a spot in the India squad for the T20 series against South Africa. The squad is likely to be announced on Sunday.
All-rounder Hardik Pandya, who has not played for India since the T20 World Cup, has shown form and fitness in the IPL and is also likely to be included in the squad for the five-game series beginning June 9. Hardika is finally back to bowling regularly which was critical in his India comeback bid.
After a two-month long IPL and with the Test team due to depart for England on June 15, some of the all-format players including Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant and Jasprit Bumrah are likely to be rested for the home series. A similar squad is also expected to be picked for the two T20s in Ireland later in June.
If that is the case, the captaincy responsibility could go to either Dhawan, who led in Sri Lanka last year, or Hardik, who has impressed as a leader in his debut season for Gujarat Titans.
The IPL continues to unearth future stars and this season has been no different. While Umran impressed with his raw pace for the Sunrisers, left-arm pacer Mohsin has stood out for his speed and accuracy. As his Lucknow Super Giants skipper K. L. Rahul said, left-arm pacers are always in demand at the highest level; Mohsin could get his big break on Sunday.
Impressive Arshdeep, Tilak
Another left-arm pacer in the reckoning is Arshdeep Singh, who once again had a good season for Punjab. He had one of the best economy rates in the death overs and displayed the ability of landing yorkers at will – a welcome skill in an unforgiving format. In the batting department, Tilak Verma showed a lot of promise in his maiden IPL season and might get a look in for the South Africa series. His Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma, who is also the India captain, had reserved high praise for the left-hander.
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Deepak Hooda and Venkatesh Iyer were tried in the middle-order over the West Indies and Sri Lanka series and it remains to be seen whether they retain their place.
Dinesh Karthik, who has made a strong case for the finisher’s role with his exploits for RCB, is also expected to make his umpteenth comeback in the Indian team. Rahul Tewatia, who has finished games for Gujarat from improbable situations this season, can also be given an opportunity in that position.
The form of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav has also attracted a lot of attention, potentially making way for the return of the pair endearingly referred to as ‘Kulcha’.
It is still early days in a T20 World Cup year but the South Africa series should give the team management enough idea to decide its core group of players for the marquee event in October-November.