Team India have announced a strong contingent for their upcoming tour of South Africa. Apart from three T20Is, the tour will also feature three ODIs and two Tests.
Suryakumar Yadav will lead the Men in Blue in the shortest format, as Hardik Pandya continues to recover from the ankle injury sustained during the World Cup. The BCCI announced that Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli made themselves unavailable for the white-ball leg of the assignment.
India’s squad for the T20I series vs South Africa: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Tilak Varma, Suryakumar Yadav (c), Rinku Singh, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan (wk), Jitesh Sharma (wk), Ravindra Jadeja (vc), Washington Sundar, Ravi Bishnoi, Kuldeep Yadav, Arshdeep Singh, Mohammed Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Deepak Chahar.
The T20I squad was largely along expected lines, with many of the selected players locked in battle against Australia. However, there were a few who arguably deserved to be in the mix but didn’t find a place.
Here are three Indian players who were unlucky not to be picked in India’s squad for the T20I series against South Africa.
#3 Sanju Samson
Sanju Samson is being picked in the T20I squad during ODI World Cup years and in the ODI squad during T20 World Cup years. Quite what the selectors are thinking regarding his role in the team is anybody’s guess.
Samson was in the mix for the 2023 World Cup until the start of the tournament before India opted to take a punt on Suryakumar Yadav instead. While Samson has been ignored for the shortest-format tour of South Africa, he has been picked in the ODI squad as the backup wicket-keeper.
India are playing Ishan Kishan out of position in the middle order, and Jitesh Sharma hasn’t played a single game for the senior team apart from the Asian Games.
While Samson hasn’t done his potential justice in T20Is so far, he’s slowly coming into his own and needs to be backed in the way Kishan has been.
#2 Avesh Khan
India’s fast-bowling contingent for the South Africa T20I series is largely similar to the one currently taking on Australia. While Prasidh Krishna has understandably been dropped, Arshdeep Singh, Mukesh Kumar and Deepak Chahar have retained their places.
Avesh Khan, though, hasn’t found a place in the side. He’s part of the ODI squad, meaning that he isn’t in the selectors’ red-ball plans, with the tour games of the longest format coinciding with the 50-over matches. However, the fast bowler hasn’t made the grade in the format he was picked for in his last series – T20Is.
Avesh played the third T20I against Australia and seemed to have made considerable improvements to his game. However, despite picking as many as 17 players for the upcoming rubber against the Proteas, the selectors have turned a blind eye to the 26-year-old.
India are going in with one fewer fast bowler than they did against Australia, despite the Rainbow Nation being more pace-friendly than the subcontinent.
#1 Axar Patel
Ravindra Jadeja is not only part of India’s T20I squad for the series against South Africa, but he’s also the vice-captain. Axar Patel, who’s the side’s premier all-rounder in the ongoing rubber against Australia, has not found a place in the side.
Axar can consider himself extremely unlucky to have missed out, having come up with plenty of encouraging displays in the shortest format. He’s clearly a better batter than Jadeja as things stand, and his left-arm spin has been quite impressive against the Aussies.
Axar was also a genuine contender to be picked alongside Jadeja, with the selectors opting to go down that route quite often over the last year or two.
Poll : Should Sanju Samson be picked ahead of Jitesh Sharma in T20Is?