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WI vs Ind, T20Is, 2022: Ashwin, Kuldeep are back; Have India got right combination before T20 WC?

West Indies vs India T20Is Series 2022: Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav back with Indian squad for T20Is ahead of Men's T20 World Cup. Rishabh Pant to open?

West Indies tour of India 2022: Ravichandran Ashwin called up for 5 T20I series against West Indies | Walking Wicket (Images  ©BCCI)
Ashwin called up for T20I series against West Indies (Images ©BCCI)

After three clinical performances against the West Indies to get the better of them in the One Day International (ODI) series for the 12th time straight, India are looking ahead to the upcoming five-match T20I series in the Caribbean.

Last time, they locked horns with the two-time T20 World Cup champions in India, the home side whitewashed the Maroons by a 3-0 margin quite comfortably.

Questions grow on the selection of few players

The series is going to be a challenging one, especially against a bunch of players who love the formula of the shortest format as the tourists will welcome some of their senior players in the likes of regular captain Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and many more after a short break.

KL Rahul, who was expected to make a return to cricket from his injury layoff, will miss out from the series as he is infected from the Covid virus. However, there are a few questions that arise based on the selection dilemma for India.

The Return of Ravichandran Ashwin: Is he still in India’s plans for the T20Is

The return of veteran off spinner, Ravichandran Ashwin, who has 61 T20I wickets in 51 games at an economy of 6.8, has put a question on India’s planning for the ICC T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia. He was surprisingly included in India’s squad for the last T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2021.

With Yuzvendra Chahal expected to be the lead spinner for Team India in the world cup, the competition will be for the second spinner’s slot. The conditions in Australia are favourable for pacers due to the pace and bounce on the pitches there, and India will most likely go in with a three-pronged pace attack along with all-rounder Hardik Pandya being the fourth seam-bowling option.

Ravindra Jadeja, currently the front-runner for the second spinner’s role, is also in the fray with Axar Patel and Deepak Hooda. Ashwin’s chances become bleaker as his orthodox batting also doesn’t seem to suit the T20 format on a regular basis.

“We are looking at all-rounders for a particular role; there are Jadeja, Hooda and other wrist spinners who have done better than Ashwin in white ball cricket,” a senior BCCI official revealed to Insidesport. “So, for now, he is not in the plans for white ball formats.”

Former India cricketer, Aakash Chopra, too speaking on his YouTube channel, questioned the selection. “Ravichandran Ashwin is back, that’s an interesting one; what’s the long-term perspective? Why was he not there in the team for the last 8-10 months? Why was he totally sidelined after the world cup and why has he come back now?”

With Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja and Harshal Patel in the squad, along with Axar Patel and Deepak Hooda, it is very unlikely that Ashwin will find a place unless there are a few massive injury concerns. Is he somehow in the thoughts of the Indian selectors for the upcoming T20 World Cup and if so, why was he included in the side so near to the world event?

India tour of West Indies 2022: Kuldeep Yadav called up for T20I series against West Indies in 2022 (Image: ©Associated Press)
Kuldeep Yadav called up for T20I series against West Indies in 2022 (Image: ©Associated Press)

Kuldeep Yadav: Another Curious Inclusion?

Just like his spin buddy, Yuzvendra Chahal, left-arm chinaman bowler, Kuldeep Yadav, who has 41 T20I wickets in 24 games was axed from India’s squad for the ICC T20 World Cup 2021.

His inclusion for the West Indies T20I series, just before the Asia Cup and the T20 World Cup, coming from a long lay off due to injury too seems to be a weird case just like Ashwin.

At the start of this year, against the touring West Indies side, Kuldeep wasn’t considered in the team as India went for youngster, Ravi Bishnoi. Later, when India played three T20Is against visiting Sri Lankan side, Kuldeep was considered in the side only for the third T20I game.

After an impressive IPL 2022, where Kuldeep picked 21 wickets, he didn’t play the home South Africa series due to a groin injury before being ignored for the Ireland and England series. The question arises whether Kuldeep is in the scheme of things for the 2022 T20 World Cup squad or is it just an inclusion to manage the workload of other players.

The speedster Umran Malik: What’s his future?

The whole world and India went mad when they discovered the speed of youngster Umran Malik during IPL 2022, where the 22-year-old wreaked havoc among the opposition batters with 22 wickets.

For his bright performances, he was gifted the debut cap in the Ireland T20I series where he was torn away with figures of 1-56 in five overs in two games. When he played his third T20I game against England, he was smashed all around the park to return with 1-56 in four overs. Now he isn’t included for the Caribbean tour.

Is he rested for some burden? That shouldn’t be the case given his age and how a fit 37-year-old Dinesh Karthik is still playing. With the home series against Australia and South Africa coming up just after the Asia Cup, Malik could be given a long run to prove himself at the big stage.

Apart from all of these, India have retained almost the same squad for the West Indies series. Deepak Hooda might replace Virat Kohli in the squad, who is on a break for the tour while Arshdeep Singh might earn another opportunity in place of rested Jasprit Bumrah.

Squad for India's tour of West Indies 2022 for 5 T20Is

Rohit Sharma (C), I Kishan, KL Rahul*, Suryakumar Yadav, D Hooda, S Iyer, D Karthik, R Pant, H Pandya, R Jadeja, Axar Patel, R Ashwin, R Bishnoi, Kuldeep Yadav*, B Kumar, Avesh Khan, Harshal Patel, Arshdeep Singh.

*Inclusion of KL Rahul & Kuldeep Yadav is subject to fitness.

The first of the five-match T20I series will be played on July 29 at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba, Trinidad before the teams moving to Warner Park in Basseterre, St Kitts for the second and third T20I games on August 1 and 2, respectively. After that, both teams will fly to Florida for the last two T20I games of the tour on August 6 and 7.

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