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As a result, Hardik Pandya, who led a 2-1 series win over Sri Lanka earlier this month, is back leading the T20 side with some regulars and fringe players in the squad.

While skipper Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami are being rested, the likes of Shubman Gill, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan and Kuldeep Yadav will get an extended run before they assemble for Test series camp at Nagpur from February 2.

There is also the welcome addition of attacking Mumbai opener Prithvi Shaw, who returns to the team on the back of a series of superlative performances in the domestic cricket including a record-breaking 379 against Assam in the Ranji Trophy. It’s been over a year since the 23-year-old last played for India in July 2021 — and it remains to be seen if Pandya is tempted to fiddle his set opening combination of Gill and wicketkeeper batter Ishan Kishan.

Gill has been in the form of his life, especially in the ODIs where he has scored his career-best 208 to go alongside two centuries in last four innings.

When it comes to the T20 format, the elegant Punjab batter may look a bit iffy but he has showed that he has all the shots in his armoury to cement the opening slot.

In such a scenario, it remains to be see how Pandya slots in the spirited Shaw as he may have to wait for his chance.

Suryakumar also had a quiet ODI series against New Zealand but when it comes to T20 format the 360-degree batter becomes a dangerous entity as he would look relish the challenge and come back into groove ahead of the Test series.

While the batting looks sorted, it’s the bowling department that may demand some attention.

Left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh, who returned from injury, was in the eye of storm in the series against Sri Lanka. He leaked 37 runs in two overs as India lost the T20I in Pune, their only reverse in the 2-1 series win. He would look to come up with a tidy show.

But there was also a bright spot in the bowling department with Shivam Mavi capping an impressive debut with 4/22.

Mavi bowled with pace and the way he cleaned up Pathum Nissanka is still fresh in the mind. The speedster would look to form a potent combination with Umran Malik.

In the last ODI, India had got a chance to witness ‘Kul-Cha’ in action after a long time but come the T20s, India may have to fret over the inclusion of either Kuldeep Yadav or Yuzvendra Chahal.

Chahal has been the preferred option in the format and in the absence of Axar Patel it remains to be seen if the leg-spinner is persisted.


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