The BCCI selection committee, which met on Friday, announced the team for the upcoming prestigious World T20 and Asia Cup. Manish Pandey failed to make the cut, with Ajinkya Rahane preferred over Kolkata Knight Riders batsman.
Pandey, who scored a brilliant maiden ton to help India defeat Australia in the fifth ODI in Sydney, was said to be a serious contender for the final batting place in the squad. However, it seems the selectors went with the more experienced Rahane.
Mohammed Shami, who was picked for the Australia series but unfortunately got injured and had to return to India, has also been picked for the World T20 and Asia Cup. His inclusion will boost India's bowling lineup, which has been a major cause for concern. Pawan Negi, who was picked for the India-Sri Lanka T20 series, has also found a place in the squad.
As expected, the selectors, who met in New Delhi, did not make any major changes to the team that defeated Australia 3-0 last month. The selectors have banked on experience, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Ashish Nehra the other senior pros in the World T20 squad. The trio was a part of India squad in the T20 series against Australia.
Irfan Pathan was another name doing the rounds ahead of the selection meeting, after the left-arm pacer's strong showing in the Syed Muhstaq Ali Trophy. However, the selectors decided to stick with pretty much the same fast bowlers who did so well in Australia. Bhuvneshwar Kumar's disappointing form of late has led to the swing bowler missing out.
The World T20 is set to start from 9 March in India with the qualifying rounds, while the main round, which shall witness 10 teams divided into two groups, is scheduled from 15 March. India have been drawn in Group B alongside New Zealand, Pakistan, Australia and a qualifier, expected to be Bangladesh.
Only two teams will qualify from each group for the semifinals stage and India are said to be favourites to win the title for the second time. The Men in Blue are also favourites to clinch the Asia Cup, which will be played in Bangladesh, starting 24 February. It is for the first time that the Asia Cup will be played in the T20 format.
India have made their case stronger for both the titles with an impressive series win against Australia in the recently concluded T20 series.
India squad for World T20 and Asia Cup: MS Dhoni (Captain), Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh, Mohammed Shami, Pawan Negi.