Many seniors including captain Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul are all set to be rested for the upcoming five-match T20 series against South Africa, with an eye on the marquee tour of England in July.
Besides, the national selection committee is also set to excuse Jasprit Bumrah and Rishabh Pant from the engagements against the Proteas.
It is understood that veteran opener Shikhar Dhawan and all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who has impressed one and all with his captaincy for Gujarat Titans in IPL-15, are in the reckoning for the leadership role for both South Africa and the short two-match T20I series against Ireland.
The T20 rubber against the Proteas will start in the national capital on June 9 with the remaining matches being held at Cuttack, Visakhapatnam, Rajkot, and Bengaluru respectively.
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The squad for the SA series is likely to be selected on May 22 — the last day of the league phase of this edition of IPL — in Mumbai.
The PTI has already reported that an out-of-form Virat Kohli will also be given a much-needed break but it is understood that for the selectors as well as the BCCI, the tour of England starting early July is paramount.
”All the senior India players will get at least three and half weeks of complete rest. Rohit, Virat, KL, Rishabh and Jasprit will all directly go to England for the ‘fifth Test’ following the white-ball series. We need all our key players to remain fresh for the England series,” a senior BCCI source privy to the development told PTI on the condition of anonymity.
As a part of workload management, all the senior all-format players will not be part of the next seven T20 Internationals.
Asked about captaincy, the source said: ”The selectors have a couple of choices. Shikhar Dhawan, as he has already captained India in absence of Virat, Rohit and Rahul during last year’s Sri Lanka series. But Hardik Pandya’s impressive captaincy for Gujarat Titans hasn’t gone unnoticed. So it will be a close call,” he added.
Mohsin Khan could pip Umran Malik in SA squad
While Umran Malik has generated considerable excitement with his 150 kmph plus pace, there is a feeling that he is too raw and time with the India A team could help him develop better. While he remains in the mix with death overs specialist Arshdeep Singh, the man who is emerging as a ‘Dark Horse’ is Lucknow Super Giants’ left-armer Mohsin Khan.
”Our pace bowling department is set and selectors might not experiment too much,” he said.
”But yes, Mohsin has impressed almost everyone with his pace, bounce and swing in this edition. He does have a chance. Having said that, not ruling out Umran or Arshdeep either, but Mohsin might just be slightly ahead,” he added.
It is understood that most of the players who recently played in the T20 series against Sri Lanka and the West Indies are set to be retained irrespective of their current IPL form.
Obviously, Suryakumar Yadav or Ravindra Jadeja’s injury needs to be factored in and Deepak Chahar will also not be available.
The likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Shreyas Iyer, and Deepak Hooda along with Dhawan and Hardik are set to form the core of the batting unit. Sanju Samson could also be retained and there could be at the max one left-field selection in the squad.
In the pace bowling unit, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Prasidh Krishna, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan are all certainties, along with the IPL’s stellar spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal. Kuldeep Yadav is also expected to make the cut.