Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Nitish Rana, K Gowtham and Chetan Sakariya have all received maiden call-ups to the national team, figuring in the 20-man India squad for the white-ball series in Sri Lanka, scheduled for July. The second-string squad – the main team will be in England at the time – will be captained by opening batter Shikhar Dhawan, who has never led India previously, and will also see the international comeback of fast bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has been appointed vice-captain.
India’s Sri Lanka tour comprises six matches: three ODIs (on July 13, 16 and 18), followed by three T20Is (July 21, 23, 25). Former India captain Rahul Dravid has been confirmed as the head coach, although the BCCI did not announce the enitre roster of the support staff on Thursday when it made public details of the squad, which will have five reserve bowlers.
India will have to field a team in Sri Lanka shorn of its premier players because the main squad, captained by Virat Kohli, is currently in England getting ready for the inaugural World Test Championship final against New Zealand (June 18 onwards), which will be followed by a five-Test series against England, starting in August. That makes it the first instance of two Indian men’s teams operating simultaneously in bilateral series internationally.
It is no surprise that four of the five uncapped players – Gowtham the exception – to receive maiden call-ups have all made strong impressions in the last two seasons of the IPL. Padikkal and Gaikwad have been successful as openers at the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Chennai Super Kings respectively, while Rana has been a regular in the top order at the Kolkata Knight Riders for a few seasons, and Sakariya has made an impressive start to his stint with the Rajasthan Royals in the truncated 2021 edition earlier this year.
Padikkal became the first Indian to hit four consecutive List A centuries, while opening for Karnataka during the Indian domestic Vijay Hazare 50-over tournament this year. Padikkal, who made his IPL debut with the Royal Challengers in IPL 2020, has 668 runs in 21 matches at an average of 33.40 and a strike rate of 131.75.
Gaikwad, who has a healthy average of 47.87 in List A cricket, has scored five half-centuries in 13 IPL matches. As for Rana, who has carved out a regular spot in the top order for the Knight Riders, he has 13 fifties in the IPL and a total of 1638 runs. He also has three centuries in List A cricket for Delhi in the domestic circuit.
Squad: Shikhar Dhawan (capt), Bhuvneshwar Kumar (vice-capt), Prithvi Shaw, Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suryakumar Yadav, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Nitish Rana, Ishan Kishan (wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Yuzvendra Chahal, Rahul Chahar, K Gowtham, Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Varun Chakravarthy, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini, Chetan Sakariya
Net bowlers: Ishan Porel, Sandeep Warrier, Arshdeep Singh, R Sai Kishore, Simarjeet Singh
More to follow…