Kedar, Shardul back for SA ODIs, KL Rahul misses out
By Nikhil Bapat
Mumbai, Dec 23 (PTI) Middle-order batsman Kedar Jadhav and speedster Shardul Thakur were back in the 17-member India squad for the six-match ODI series in South Africa but KL Rahul failed to make the cut despite back-to-back half- centuries in the T20 series against Sri Lanka.
Senior spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were once again ignored by the selectors, who backed the young trio of slow bowlers -- wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav along with left-arm spinner Axar Patel.
Chairman of selectors MSK Prasad made it clear that they are looking to give Yadav and Chahal a longer rope since they had decided to look at wrist spinners after the Champions Trophy.
"We keep on repeating that after Champions Trophy, we tried with the new boys -- Chahal and Kuldeep -- and we are being consistent with Axar," chairman of selectors MSK Prasad said after the selection meeting here.
"With the big games, they are definitely improving a lot and we all felt and it's a unanimous decision that they should be given an extended role, since they are doing well. They should be backed," he added.
"We want to increase the bench-strength in the spin department and today all of us will accept that we have five- six quality spinners."
Senior pacer Mohammed Shami made a comeback in the ODI team while Shardul came back in place of Siddarth Kaul, who was in the squad for the three-match series against Sri Lanka.
Prasad indicated that from the England series next summer, they will close in on the core ODI team for the 2019 World Cup.
"Probably from the England series, that's where we will have a core team, and may be we fix up on a certain number and focus form there on."
One of the players who was unfortunate to miss out was Rahul, who has played two dazzling knocks in the two T20s against Sri Lanka.
But with Shikhar Dhawan and vice-captain Rohit Sharma being automatic choices and Ajinkya Rahane being specifically looked as an opener in the 50-over version, there was no place for Rahul as the fourth opener.
Shreyas Iyer is being looked as a possible batsman for the number four slot.
"We are discussing Rahul's batting position. Because the class and the form that he is in, it is really unfortunate that (he) is missing out.
"Right now those boys who are there in the squad have done well and it makes sense to continue with them. May be in times to come, KL will definitely get a look-in. We will try and see different options. Probably after this series, we have to think about that," Prasad said.
He also informed that the T20 squad will be a separate one and they are moving towards a direction where the three formats will have their own specialists.
Squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar