The national selectors decided to reward IPL performances, putting emphasis on youth, while deciding on the squad for the five T20Is against South Africa at home.
Also, Cheteshwar Pujara made a comeback to the squad for the rescheduled fifth Test against England after being ignored for the home Tests against Sri Lanka.  Ajinkya Rahane had been ruled out with a hamstring injury suffered during his stint with Kolkata Knight Riders.
Regular captain Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah haven’t been considered for the South Africa series since they will be preparing for the Edgbaston Test. The Test specialists, who are not part of the T20I squad, will leave for Birmingham in the middle of next month. The home series will be played from June 9 to 19.
KL Rahul has been named the captain of the 18-member squad for the South Africa series. Shikhar Dhawan was not picked.
All-rounder Hardik Pandya has been included for the T20Is after being sidelined since the T20 World Cup in the UAE because of injury while Umran Malik and Arshdeep Singh have earned maiden call-ups to the national side.
Deepak Chahar, Ravindra Jadeja and Suryakumar Yadav are all carrying injuries, though Jadeja has been included for the Test match. There has, however, been no place for Mohammed Siraj and Sanju Samson in the T20 squad.
That IPL form strongly influenced selection is clear in the Chetan Sharma-led committee’s decision to recall Dinesh Karthik. The wicketkeeper-batsman will turn 37 next month and is being seen as a finisher. DK has been quite a revelation and earned praise from several quarters. His strike rate of 191.33 this season forced the selectors to consider him as a death over specialist before the World Cup in October.
Hardik’s fitness will once again come under the scanner. He has bowled 24.3 overs across eight innings in the IPL but hasn’t been regular with the ball. With the bat he has been excellent but the national selectors want to be certain that he can deliver at least a couple of overs regularly. His medium pace could be vital on the hard and bouncy Australian wickets.
Arshdeep has been a death over specialist for Punjab Kings while Umran has consistently breached the 150kmph barrier. His raw pace can evoke fear in opposition ranks and he put the selectors in a dilemma on whether to pick him as a trump card for the lone Test in England or test him in T20Is at home.
Ultimately he got picked for the shortest format since the selectors felt he needed to be groomed step by step. Any miscalculation could spell disaster as Umran needs to be handled with care.
The addition of youngsters like Umran, Arshdeep, Avesh Khan and Harshal Patel is an indication that the selectors are willing to look beyond some of the regulars in the shortest format.
No Mayank
Pujara has been rewarded for his sizzling form in the county circuit. The No.3 specialist has piled up 720 runs in eight innings for Sussex — including four centuries — at an average of 120.
Pujara made 170 not out against a Middlesex attack that included Pakistan’s Shaheen Shah Afridi. In another absorbing contest at Hove, Pujara scored 203 against a Durham attack comprising Matthew Potts, who was recently called up to England’s Test squad against New Zealand.
But Mayank Agarwal’s omission from the Test squad has been surprising. There’s also no place for veterans like Ishant Sharma and Wriddhiman Saha.
That the selectors are looking beyond Saha is clear in the inclusion of KS Bharat as second wicketkeeper for the England Test.
Prasidh Krishna has been made part of the pace attack in the Test squad alongside Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur. Krishna has been making rapid strides and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if he finds a berth in the XI. 

By admin