Ibrahim Khaleel, who captained USA to victory over Canada in the 2017 Auty Cup to end a 26-year drought and more recently led USA to the tournament title at the ICC World T20 Subregional Americas Qualifier in North Carolina last week, has been dropped from USA's 16-man squad for the Cricket West Indies Super50.
Former India Under-19 medium pacer Saurabh Netravalkar, who made his captaincy debut in USA's final match in North Carolina against Belize as a stand-in for the rested Khaleel, has been chosen to take over full-time for the Super50 and USA's tour to Oman for WCL Division Three in November.
Khaleel, who turns 36 next week, is one of a handful of USA players who had T20 franchise contracts in the Caribbean Premier League this summer as well as in the Global T20 Canada, but has paid the price for scoring five runs in two innings in North Carolina. He was USA's third highest scorer with 142 runs on tour and a best of 61 in the CWI Super50 played in February in Barbados, USA's most recent 50-over tour.
But Khaleel's overall 50-over batting record for USA was modest, with 392 runs in 21 matches at an average of 19.60. He was arguably USA's best pure gloveman of the past decade, though it wasn't enough of a benefit in the eyes of USA's selection panel to justify maintaining his spot. His departure means Jaskaran Malhotra will take over the gloves in the immediate future for USA. Malhotra was USA's leading scorer this past January at the Super50 with 277 runs. He was named Best Batsman at the Subregional Americas Qualifier after scoring his maiden century for USA against Belize and kept wicket in the match that Netravalkar filled in for Khaleel as captain.
"There were some incredibly tough decisions to be made following the tournament in Raleigh, of which the decision regarding Ibrahim was one of them," said USA selection chairman Ricardo Powell in a press release. "On behalf of the selection committee, I would like to express a sincere and heartful [sic] thanks to Ibrahim for his leadership over the past thirteen months."
Netravalkar, 26, did not have a sharp tournament in North Carolina either, with just two wickets in six matches at an average of 45.50 against weak competition. However, he was USA's joint-leading wicket taker in February at the last Super50 with 13 wickets in eight games on his USA tournament debut and has been given the captaincy nod ahead of others in a side where few other senior players have managed to make convincing cases for holding down a long-term spot in the team.
Fast bowler Ali Khan is the only other player from the T20 squad picked for North Carolina who will be absent from the Super50 tour of Barbados after Khan was drafted by Kabul in the inaugural Afghanistan Premier League which starts this weekend in the UAE. However, Khan is expected to be a member of USA's WCL Division Three squad in Oman beginning on November 9 where USA will also face Denmark, Kenya, Singapore and Uganda needing a top-two finish to gain promotion to WCL Division Two.
On the flip side, Steven Taylor became available for USA's squad after he was not included in Jamaica's playing group for the Super50. Taylor played for Jamaica in February's Super50 and has had a contract with the Jamaica Scorpions franchise since 2017 but has seen limited playing time in both the four-day and 50-over teams. He was recently named Player of the Tournament after helping USA to the Subregional Americas T20 title in North Carolina, including an unbeaten 96 off 54 balls in a two-wicket win over Canada on September 25 in which he clubbed 22 off the final over.
The three players added to USA's squad for the Super50 to push their case for inclusion in USA's final 14 that will go to Oman are batsman Alex Amsterdam and medium pacers Jessy Singh and Kyle Phillip. Amsterdam, 27, last played for USA at the previous Division Three tournament in Uganda in May 2017, making 102 runs in four innings with a best of 41.
Singh, 25, also has not played since Division Three in Uganda after requiring reconstructive knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus and torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee suffered in the leadup to that tour. Singh played through the injury, taking the clinching wicket against Uganda that saved USA from relegation, before a post-tournament MRI scan revealed the extent of the damage.
Phillip, 21, has only recently qualified on residency to play for USA after moving to Florida from Trinidad & Tobago. The towering quick, Phillip stands roughly 6'6", poses a threat with his sharp height and bounce at 135 kph and was the only other USA player besides Khaleel and Khan to be drafted in this past summer's Global T20 Canada. He was team-mates with Khan at Winnipeg Hawks and played four matches but is still a very raw prospect and struggles with his accuracy at times.
USA's squad departs Wednesday for Barbados where they will play eight matches in a double round-robin group that includes Barbados, Jamaica, Leeward Islands and Combined Campuses & Colleges. USA's first match is against CCC on Saturday October 6.