New Delhi: Senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin returned to India's white-ball outfit after four years when he was included in the 15-member squad for the T20 World Cup alongside the fast-rising trio of Ishan Kishan, Axar Patel and Varun Chakaravarthy.
Also making the squad was Suryakumar Yadav, the 30-year-old Mumbai batsman who has been making a name for himself for his power-hitting.
The 34-year-old Ashwin last played white-ball cricket for India in 2017 before being sidelined from one-day cricket following the Champions Trophy. However, he kept performing in the IPL besides leading India's spin attack in Test cricket.
Kishan (23) and Chakaravarthy (30) have been rewarded for their consistent performance in the IPL and also impressed in the few opportunities they got with the Indian team. The T20 World Cup starts October 17 in the UAE and Oman.
The big names to be dropped were opener Shikhar Dhawan and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal. Rahul Chahar has been preferred over Chahal who was a certainty in India's limited over squads until now. Dhawan has been overlooked with K L Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Kishan being picked as the three openers.
Talking about the squad, chief selector Chetan Sharma said: "Ashwin is an asset. He performed well in the IPL and we needed a player of his experience. We need an off-spinner with Washington (Sundar) injured.
"Ashwin is the only off-spinner in the squad. Varun is a mystery spinner who is a surprise package for the world," he added.
Sharma also stated that all-rounder Hardik Pandya is "absolutely fit and will bowl his quota of overs." "We have picked Rahul Chahar over Yuzi as we wanted someone who bowls fast and gets pace off the pitch," Sharma explained. Axar has been picked as a back up to all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja.
The others who could not find a place in the main squad were Prithvi Shaw and Shreyas Iyer. Iyer has, however, made the standbys list along with Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar. Thakur has been in tremendous form and has already produced eye-catching performances in the ongoing Test series against England.
India will open their T20 World Cup campaign on October 24 by taking on arch-rivals Pakistan.
Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma (vice captain), KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Rahul Chahar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Varun Chakravarthy, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami.
Standby players: Shreyas Iyer, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar.
(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)