Pacer Shami returns to India squad for World T20

New Delhi, Feb 5 (IANS) Pacer Mohammed Shami has been included in India’s squad for this month’s Asia Cup and the World T20 commencing next month, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced here on Friday.

Shami hasn’t played for the country since the 2015 World Cup due to a knee injury. The 25-year-old Bengal right-armer was named in the limited-overs squads for the tour of Australia, but was withdrawn due to a hamstring injury.

“Mohammed Shami has recovered and is fit. He has started bowling,” selection committee chairman Sandeep Patil said at the press conference.

Patil added that the Asia Cup will give them a good indication of Shami’s match fitness ahead of the crucial World T20.

Uncapped left-arm spinner Pawan Negi was also picked. He played for the now suspended Chennai Super Kings franchise in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and represents Delhi in the domestic circuit.

In the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, the 23-year-old took six wickets at 33.66 (economy 8.71) and scored 173 runs at 86.50 with a strike-rate of 173 for Delhi.

The same team would take on Sri Lanka in a three-match T20I series against Sri Lanka starting next week. India will take on hosts Bangladesh in their first match of the Asia Cup T20 tournament on February 24 in Mirpur.

It will be followed by matches against traditional rivals Pakistan (February 27), Sri Lanka (March 1), and one more league match against one of Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong and Oman who have to quality for the main stage.

Young batsman Manish Pandey, who impressed with a match-winning century in the third T20 against Australia recently, wasn’t named in the squad.

Patil termed the Karnataka right-hander as a future prospect.

“Regarding Manish Pandey, it is difficult to say whether a player is dropped or rested, it’s a tough call to make because Manish did exceptionally well in Australia. He is our future prospect,” he said.

Pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma were also left out.

Batsman Ajinkya Rahane, injured during the One-Day series against Australia, was selected. The selectors also expectedly included star batsman Virat Kohli after resting him for the three-match T20 series against Sri Lanka.

The selectors have incorporated the experienced trio of Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Ashish Nehra to add depth to the team.

“We experimented during Australia and discussed which players would be good for replacements. For the T20 format, where you won’t get too much time, we discussed a few names. In the shorter format, horses for courses has worked,” Patil said.

“When selectors pick a team, we always give importance to domestic performance. It is not that we are only looking at seniors, we have looked at the performance, fitness and record of the domestic players as well. We have taken into account all the performances of not just 15-16 guys but all the domestic players and then picked these 15,” he added.

World T20 hosts India are in Group B alongside New Zealand, Pakistan, Australia and a yet-to-be-decided qualifier in the premier tournament. Their World T20 campaign begins on March 15 against New Zealand.

They recently defeated Australia 3-0 in a three-match series Down Under last month to become the No.1 T20 team in the world.

India were the winners of the inaugural edition of the World T20 in 2007 and have been termed as the favourites.

The India T20 squad for World T20 and Asia Cup:

Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain & wicketkeeper), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh, Mohammed Shami, Pawan Negi.

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