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India T20I squad for New Zealand: Pandya's recovery setback and Rahul-Dhawan headache

India's Shikhar Dhawan

While Hardik Pandya's personal trainer reckons him to be "100% fit", he does not want to push the all-rounder in the grind of competitive cricket just as yet.

The wait continues for Hardik Pandya

The expected return of Hardik Pandya to international cricket following his back surgery has been prolonged. Pandya was slated to be part of the India A squad for the New Zealand series and join the Indian limited-overs senior side for 5 T20Is and 3 ODIs thereafter.

The official BCCI statement says that his "rehabilitation process is taking longer than expected" which is why Pandya will not play a role on the tour. Vijay Shankar has been named as his replacement for the India A tour while Shivam Dube retains his place in the Indian team as the pace bowling all-rounder.

Reports initially suggested that Pandya had not been included in the squad after failing a fitness test. However, Hardik's personal trainer, S Rajnikant rubbished these claims.

"He is 100% fit," Rajnikanth said. "There is no doubt about that. But I don't want him to take the workload of back-to-back international matches. No fitness test has been conducted for Pandya yet, so there's no question of him failing any test," the trainer revealed.

Samson out of T20 World Cup fray?

Team India seems to have had enough of their experiment with Sanju Samson as the second keeper-batsman in the squad. Samson got only one game, after being part of the squad for multiple series, in which he played only two deliveries and scored 6 runs.

Rishabh Pant is now the only specialist wicketkeeper-batsman in the squad and that might take some pressure of his back. He needs to concentrate just on performing well now both with the gloves and the bat and will not have to worry about looking over his shoulder continuously.

Team undecided on the Rahul v Dhawan question

With KL Rahul in ominous form, the selection committee decided to keep both Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul in the squad. India can essentially play only one of the two as Rohit Sharma's opening partner. But, KL Rahul being extremely consistent in the recent opportunities that he got and Shikhar Dhawan also impressing on return from injury with a rapid half-century in the final T20I against Sri Lanka, the team has not been able to make up its mind yet between the two openers.

Hence, the team is playing safe by keeping both options open. This also gives some insight into the team management's thought process as they might not shy away from taking all three to the T20 World Cup as well and then pick the playing XI on current form.


Rohit, Shami return

Rohit Sharma and Mohammad Shami, two of India's main players, have returned for the five-match T20I series against New Zealand after being rested for the Sri Lanka T20is. Both Rohit and Shami now play all three formats for India which was not the case earlier. Hence, the BCCI has been very particular in monitoring and easing their workloads.

It is to be noted here that the two were part of the Indian ODI squad for the series against Australia, but inclusion for New Zealand tour marks their return to the T20I squad.

Bowling options aplenty

The team has a buffet of bowlers with one bowler of each type present in the squad. India have the seaming and skiddy nature of Mohammad Shami, the raw pace of Navdeep Saini, the x-factor of Jasprit Bumrah, and the swing of Shardul Thakur.

Coming to the spin department, they have as many as four spinners will all bases covered. In Yuzvendra Chahal, they have a conventional leg spinner. Kuldeep Yadav is their left-arm wrist spin option.

There is variety in the finger spinner department as well. Washington Sundar is the the off spinner while Ravindra Jadeja is the left-arm spinner. Both of them also double up as bowling all-rounders.

India's T20I squad: Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma (VC), KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (WK), Shivam Dube, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Washington Sundar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur

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