Rookies Siraj, Iyer in T20 squad; no rest for Kohli yet
(Eds: Adding quotes of chairman of selectors MSK Prasad)
By Nikhil Bapat
Mumbai, Oct 23 (PTI) Skipper Virat Kohli got no immediate break, while rookie pacer Mohammed Siraj and prolific batsman Shreyas Iyer made their way into a 16-strong Indian T20 squad for the three-match series against New Zealand, starting November 1.
Despite speculation, Kohli was not rested from the New Zealand series and was also picked for the first two Tests against Sri Lanka, starting November 16. The matches against the islanders are to be held in Kolkata and Nagpur.
However, chairman of selectors MSK Prasad indicated that a "rotation policy will be applicable" for the captain as well.
It is expected that Kohli will be rested for the final Test and the limited-overs series against Sri Lanka, which is slated in December as he would be required fresh and re- energised before the tough tour of South Africa.
"With regards to Virat Kohli, there were some speculations that he is going to be rested for the whole of Sri Lankan series, it is not right. As far as the Test series is concerned, he is going to play and at some point of time, the rotation policy that we are following will apply to the captain," Prasad made it clear during a media conference.
Prasad said Kohli's workload is being monitored.
"We are also monitoring his workload. He has been playing continuously right from IPL till today, we need to give him a break which we will consider after the Test series," he added.
There are no surprises in the Test squad with Abhinav Mukund making way for a fit-again first-choice opener Murali Vijay. Vijay did not take part in the last Test series against Sri Lanka due to a hand injury and some other fitness related issues.
Predictably, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja made a comeback in the longer version with Kuldeep Yadav being the third specialist spinner in the 16-member squad.
Senior speedsters Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma are back in the mix for the five-day format along with Test specialists Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha.
In the T20 squad, the 23-year-old Siraj, who first came into prominence for Sunrisers Hyderabad, has been rewarded for his impressive performances for India A during a recent tour of South Africa and matches against New Zealand.
The 22-year-old Iyer has been a consistent performer for his home state Mumbai and India A during the past one year.
He scored a double hundred earlier this year in a warm-up game against Australia along with a match-winning hundred against South Africa A in the summit clash of an away tri- series.
His call-up is on expected lines as he has had some good knocks for the Delhi Daredevils in the 2016 edition of the Indian Premier League.
"Shreyas Iyer has been prolific in all forms of the game, be it Tests, ODIs or T20s or IPL -- name anything, he is performing. If we pick a player, we will give him an extended run and we will continue with him for some point and nurture him and see that he goes on to become successful.
"With Siraj, he is doing well and has been duly rewarded," said Prasad.
Ashish Nehra, who will retire after the first T20 game against New Zealand on November 1, has been picked for only that game scheduled in his home ground of Delhi.
Prasad made it clear that the 38-year-old's inclusion in the playing XI will be the team management's decision.
"Whether he (Nehra) is going to play or not, is clearly the decision of the team management. There are no assurances from our side (selectors), whether he is going to play or not. It will purely be decided by the team management."
However, Prasad made it clear that there has been clear communication with Nehra with regards to how they are looking at the future.
"There are lot of apprehensions going on about Ashish Nehra. I will make it very clear and candid -- we have clearly communicated to the player, that is Ashish Nehra and the team management, that we are only looking at him till the New Zealand series," he said.
The other reason is the 'A' team bowlers, who are supposed to be the supply line for the senior team, need to be blooded at the top level.
"If you see the pattern with which we have selected India A players, the same bowlers have been continuing for the past one and half years in all the A tours. That means they are very much in line (for selection), and they have really done well in South Africa (A tour) and also at home against New Zealand."
Prasad said that Nehra has been told about selectors' logic.
Team for T20I series against New Zealand: Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma (Vice-Captain), KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (WK), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra, Mohammed Siraj.
Team for first two Test matches of the 3-match series against Sri Lanka: Virat Kohli (Captain), KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (Vice-Captain), Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma