Mumbai: Batsman K L Rahul returned to India’s squads yesterday for the upcoming limited-overs series against Australia after being sidelined for sexist comments during a controversial TV chat show appearance.
Teammate Hardik Pandya had talked about his encounters with multiple women in the chat show aired last month as Rahul sat next to him, prompting an uproar on social media that led to the duo’s suspension.
While their ban was lifted last month and Pandya returned to the Indian XI in New Zealand, Rahul had to prove his batting form for India A against England Lions in two unofficial Tests.
Rahul has been named in both the one-day and Twenty20 squads announced by the country’s cricket board.
Skipper Virat Kohli also returned to lead the side in two T20 matches starting February 24, followed by five ODI games from March 2.
Kohli opted out of the last two ODIs against New Zealand after guiding the side to an unbeatable 3-0 lead, also skipping India’s 2-1 defeat in the T20 series.
Senior wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik was dropped from the ODI team that unites for one final time before the 50-over World Cup in England and Wales starting May 30.
Rising star Rishabh Pant got the go-ahead instead, indicating the wicketkeeper could be a part of India’s World Cup scheme.
With Mahendra Singh Dhoni assured of his place behind the stumps, 33-year-old Karthik has been optimistic of securing a back-up role having also transformed himself into a lower order batsman who can float in the order.
India, however, opted for 21-year-old Pant, who like Karthik can play as a specialist limited-overs batsman and has been very impressive in the Test series in Australia.
Chief selector M.S.K. Prasad said having a left-handed Pant in the middle order suited the team, but added they were yet to decide on the back-up keeper’s slot.
“Prior to this, we had series in New Zealand and Australia where Karthik was chosen because Rishabh had played four test matches,” he said.
“We wanted him (Pant) to get a good break... he played a couple of one-day matches against England Lions, in which he did extremely well. Then we sent him to the T20 matches (in New Zealand). We want to give him a few ODIs also before taking a final call.”
Like Karthik, spin all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was also overlooked for the ODI series against the reigning world champions, which is perceived as a dress rehearsal for India’s World Cup campaign in England later this year.
The successful wrist spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav were the obvious picks for the ODIs and are set to travel to England where the two-times champions begin their World Cup campaign against South Africa on June 5.
Frontline fast bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been rested for the first two ODI games and returns for the remaining three matches.
Rookie leg-spinner Mayank Markande takes the place of new spin ace Kuldeep Yadav in the T20 squad.