Former head coach Ravi Shastri has picked India’s best XI for the first T20I against South Africa that will be played at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi on June 9. However, the cricketer-turned-commentator has made a couple of exclusions one of which indeed happens to be a surprising one. Batting all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer found no place in his list, but more importantly, an in-form Dinesh Karthik has been excluded as well.
While selecting his team, Shastri picked the stand-in captain KL Rahul and CSK opener Ruturaj Gaikwad as openers and also went on to include Hardik Pandya, who had an outstanding IPL 2022, where he not only led the Gujarat Titans to a memorable title triumph but also showcased his all-round abilities by making the bat and the ball do the talking. “I think they will go with the guys they will want to see first – the Rahuls, the Ruturaj Gaikwads – maybe they will open. They will probably give Ishan (Kishan) a break in this game or bat him at three,” Shastri was quoted as saying on Star Sports show ‘Game Plan’. “If you bat him (Ishan) at three, then it will be Shreyas (Iyer) at No. 4, (Rishabh) Pant at No. 5, and Hardik (Pandya) at No. 6,” he stated.
In the bowling department, the ex-all-rounder picked the likes of Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Yuzvendra Chahal, and was spoiled for choices between Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik and completed the list by picking medium-pacer Harshal Patel. The selectors have decided to rest the key players including the likes of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and Jasprit Bumrah as a part of the workload management, taking a jam-packed calendar into consideration that also includes the Asia Cup, and the T20 World Cup in Australia. The Men in Blue would be eager to avenge the away ODI series whitewash against the Proteas earlier this year.
Here is Ravi Shastri’s XI: KL Rahul, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh/Umran Malik, Harshal Patel.