All-rounder Krunal Pandya was on Saturday named in India’s 12 for the first of the three T20 internationals against the West Indies here at the Eden Gardens on Sunday.
Also in the fray is young left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed, if India opt to go with three quicks, one spinner and one spinning all-rounder on a pace-friendly Eden track, which is expected to be a run feast.
Krunal, who is the elder brother to Hardik — currently nursing a back injury — was part of the squad for the three T20I series in England this summer but didn’t get a game.
Also part of the Australia tour, Krunal was seen spending a lot of time at the nets on Saturday, mostly batting.
The 27-year old left-hander, who rode some consistent performances in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for Mumbai Indians, Baroda and India ‘A’ in the past three years, also rolled his arms for a fair bit of time under the watchful eyes of bowling coach Bharat Arun.
Meanwhile, out-of-form opener Shikhar Dhawan was also seen batting for close to an hour even after his teammates had left.
Dhawan averaged just 22.40 in five ODI innings against the Windies, managing just 112 runs.
India might play just the one out of the two wrist-spinners here, like they did in the ODIs against the Windies.
This makes Krunal’s claim stronger with his left-arm spin to go with Bhuvneshwar, Bumrah and Khaleel.
Chahal looked tired in the ODIs, losing his place in the playing XI to Ravindra Jadeja’s all-round abilities.
But if skipper Rohit Sharma and head coach Ravi Shastri decide to stick with the tried and tested combination of Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, there could be a toss up between Krunal’s spin and Khaleel’s left-arm pace – assuming that Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah’s places are taken for granted.
Rishabh Pant is the designated wicketkeeper in Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s absence, and will be a part of the middle-order that will be populated by Manish Pandey and Dinesh Karthik. Shreyas Iyer misses out from the first 12, as do Umesh Yadav, Shahbaz Nadeem and Washington Sundar.
India’s 12: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant (Wicket-keeper), Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Khaleel Ahmed, Yuzvendra Chahal.