India vs New Zealand 2017: 5 things we learnt from India's squad announcement
Last night, the Indian selectors announced the 15-member squad that will take on New Zealand in a three-match ODI series that starts in Mumbai on October 22.
Batsman KL Rahul, pacers Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav were excluded from the squad while wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik and pacer Shardul Thakur made the cut.
Indian ODI squad to face New Zealand: Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzi Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur.
Let us take a look at the five things we learnt from India's squad announcement for the New Zealand series.
#5 KL Rahul is an opener
One of the most surprising decisions from the squad for the ODI series against New Zealand is the exclusion of batsman KL Rahul. After scoring 196 runs in his first three innings in the format, the Karnataka batsman managed to score just 52 runs in the next six innings and one of the main reasons for his failure is that he was not given a proper role in the ODI side, like he was given in the Test side.
When the squad for the ODI series against Sri Lanka was announced, chief selector MSK Prasad pointed out that Rahul will be tried at number 4 as it is one area the team has been struggling to fix. In the series against Sri Lanka, he played just three innings, out of which he batted at no. 3 once and at no. 4 on two occasions.
Soon after, Manish Pandey was preferred over Rahul and the latter was not given a single chance in the series against Australia before he was dropped for the series against the Kiwis.
Talking about Rahul's exclusion, a BCCI official told ESPNcricinfo, "Karthik's inclusion is a reward for the runs he has been scoring. There is no particular reason [behind Rahul's omission] because Ajinkya [Rahane] has done well as an opener. He (Rahul) will play Board President's XI or the Ranji Trophy. What's the point in him just being in the squad and not playing? We will see how it goes [as far as his batting position is concerned]. Because, as of now, this is the best combination."
Does this mean that Rahul was in the ODI team as a reserve opener and made way for Shikhar Dhawan when the left-hander returned? The official's statement says so.