After announcing the Indian T20I team for the Afghanistan series, Aakash Chopra raised several important points with the selectors.
The previous few years have seen a persistent element in Indian cricket: inconsistent selection. You can blame it on workload management, injuries to important players, prioritising a certain format over a longer-term aim, or just plain stupidity. Some players suddenly return, while others are left out with little explanation, once a side for a specific format is named. There are moments when one is left scratching his head, but most of the time it is because of workload management or injury worries.
Consider the Indian team for the three-match Twenty20 International series that will begin on January 11 against Afghanistan.
For obvious reasons, the news of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli returning to the shortest format after their T20 World Cup 2022 semi-final defeat to England captured the attention of many, but there were a few noteworthy omissions that warrant discussion. Aakash Chopra, the former opener for India, emphasised a few of them.
The most noteworthy one is the peculiar situation involving Shreyas Iyer. Throughout 2023, the right-hander was not part of the T20I squad; however, he was part of the squad for the final two games of the home series against Australia in December, leading the team as vice captain. A berth in the XI should have been assured with his 53 in the final Twenty20 International in Bengaluru. However, it wasn’t. Despite being selected for a three-match T20I series against South Africa, Iyer was not given a chance to play.
As for the Afghanistan series, Iyer is no longer on the team. “Iyer was put forward to lead the T20i series against Australia in five matches as vice captain. was included in the team against SA as well. finds no place in the squad against Afghanistan,” Chopra posted on X, the defunct Twitter platform.
Iyer clearly struggles with pace and bounce in red-ball cricket, but it can’t be the reason he is excluded from the Twenty20 Internationals. The fact that Rohit and Kohli are back is undoubtedly one argument to include Iyer. There really isn’t much room for Iyer if they finish in the top three, but shouldn’t the selectors have considered this before summoning Iyer back for the home series against Australia, especially as vice captain? Another worry for Team India lately has been balancing their leadership responsibilities. Too many captains and the practice of offering vice captaincy to even younger players hasn’t done anything to improve Indian cricket.
The absence of a captain is said to be one of the main causes of Rohit’s return in Twenty20 Internationals. Since the previous T20 World Cup, Hardik Pandya has served as India’s unofficial T20I, but his brittle physique and propensity for injuries have forced India to start over from scratch. Iyer’s situation wasn’t the only unusual one. For the Afghanistan series, Shivam Dube was added back to the Twenty20 International team. Strangely, none of the white-ball sides in the South Africa trip included the seam-bowling all-rounder, who featured in the home series against Australia and was one of the choices when Hardik was unavailable.
“Dube was included in the team for the home match against Australia. was not chosen for the SA. In the lineup against AFG. And Ishan Kishen, where is he? Any updates regarding his availability?” Chopra enquired. However, Kishan is said to be taking a sabbatical because to “mental fatigue”. For the same reasons, he was also cut from the South Africa series Test squad.