Raina’s rampant T20I form
Suresh Raina has been recalled to India’s squad for the three-match T20 international series on their tour of South Africa. Raina’s inclusion was the biggest highlight among a slew of changes from the squad that faced Sri Lanka at home last December. Also returning to the squad are allrounder Axar Patel and Mumbai fast bowler Shardul Thakur.
Shreyas Iyer was the most notable absentee in the 16-man squad announced on Sunday, while Basil Thampi, Deepak Hooda, Mohammed Siraj and Washington Sundar did not find places either.
Raina’s last game in an India shirt was also in the shortest format. On that occasion, he smashed 63 to help fashion a series-clinching 75-run win over England in Bengaluru. He fell out of favour thereafter, and endured a middling 2017-18 first-class season with Uttar Pradesh, of whom he is the captain, averaging 11.66 after nine innings in the Ranji Trophy. However, he hit back in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, where he was UP’s highest scorer with 314 runs at 39.25 and a strike-rate of 146.04. That included a century and two fifties in successive innings.
Iyer, who made his ODI debut against Sri Lanka, made a bright start with two fifties in three matches. However, he returned just 54 runs in the three T20Is that followed. Iyer spent large parts of the domestic T20 season recovering from a hamstring injury, but struck an unbeaten 44-ball 79 in his last game in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
Virat Kohli took his regular place as captain after foregoing the Sri Lanka series on account of his wedding. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who also missed that series due to his wedding, returned, as did Shikhar Dhawan, who had opted out due to personal reasons.
The T20Is begin with the first game in Johannesburg on February 18, two days after the teams wrap up a six-match ODI series. India have already conceded the Tests 2-1.
India squad: Virat Kohli (capt) Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Manish Pandey, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Jaydev Unadkat, Shardul Thakur
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