India vs SA T20Is: Hooda injured, Shami still Covid-positive

It is understood that Shahbaz Ahmed and Shreyas Iyer have been called up to the squad

Deepak Hooda provided the Indian innings the much-needed impetus, India vs Pakistan, Asia Cup, Dubai, September 4, 2022

Deepak Hooda has played 12 T20Is for India  •  AFP/Getty Images

Deepak Hooda has been ruled out of the three-match T20I series between India and South Africa starting on Wednesday. The 27-year-old allrounder has a back injury and has not travelled with the team to Thiruvananthapuram, where the first game is scheduled to take place.
Also staying on the sidelines is Mohammed Shami, who was due to re-integrate with the India team this month. The fast bowler tested positive for Covid-19 a few days ago and is yet to recover from the illness.
ESPNcricinfo understands that allrounder Shahbaz Ahmed and batter Shreyas Iyer have been drafted into the squad, although it is not yet known if they are replacement players or just reserves.
Hooda only made his international debut in 2022, but has been a regular presence in India's squads. His ability to score quick runs and provide a few overs of part-time offspin were seen as assets in terms of balancing the XI. But when India had access to all of their first-choice players - which they did in the recent T20I series win over Australia - he was pushed down to the bench.
It is learnt that at least for the deciding match in Hyderabad on Sunday, Hooda was unfit. The BCCI is yet to release any detail on the extent of his injury. Hooda was named in India's 15-member T20 World Cup squad due to travel to Australia in October.
Shami too is part of that squad, though only as a reserve. The selectors felt the 2022 IPL-winning seamer had enough experience to rock up cold and still perform, although now he may have to do so with no cricket behind him since July 2022.