NEW DELHI: KL Rahul, who was named captain for the series, has been ruled out of the five-match T20I series against South Africa. The 30-year-old has picked up a right-groin injury due to which he will not be available for all five matches.
In his absence, the wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant is named as the captain for the series, with all-rounder Hardik Pandya elevated as his deputy.
The wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who regained his place in the Indian squad after a brilliant performance in the Indian Premier League 2022, will also miss the series. The left-arm tweaker was hit on his right hand while batting in the nets last evening.
The series will take place between June 9 to 19 across fine venues – Delhi, Cuttack, Visakhapatnam, Rajkot and Bengaluru. The BCCI has lifted restrictions and has allowed 100% crowd capacity for the series.
India have around 15 T20Is scheduled between June and the T20 World Cup and they are likely to try many players to find the best team combination for the premier tournament.
The selection committee hasn’t named any replacements for the two injured cricketers. Both the cricketers will now go to the National Cricket Academy where the medical team will assess them further and decide on the future course of treatment.
The stand-in captain Pant in the pre-match press conference stated he’s thankful for the opportunity and will try to make the most of it. “It’s a very good feeling. It didn’t come under very good circumstances. At the same time, I am thankful for being given this opportunity to lead the Indian side. I will try to make the most of it,” he said.
Pant has earlier captained Delhi’s team in Ranji Trophy and Delhi Capitals in the IPL. When asked about whether his past experience as a captain will come in handy, he said, “I think as a captain it’ll help me a lot because when you keep on doing the same thing over a period of time you tend to grow. I’m someone who learns from my mistakes. I think that is something which could help me in the coming days also.”
On South Africa series being a start for the preparation of the World T20, which is scheduled to take place later this year, the southpaw opined, “I think as a team, we have thought about certain goals which we want to achieve and we are continuously working on them because we are thinking of the World Cup at the back of our head. We are preparing for that. I think in the coming days, we’ll see that there will be a lot of changes in the way we play cricket.”
India’s updated T20I squad: Rishabh Pant (Captain)(wk), Hardik Pandya (vice-captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Venkatesh Iyer, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik