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Yashasvi Jaiswal, Tilak Varma earn maiden call up to India T20I squad

Hardik Pandya captains the side which will play five games against West Indies in August, with Suryakumar Yadav named his deputy

Alagappan Muthu
Alagappan Muthu
05-Jul-2023
Yashasvi Jaiswal and Tilak Varma steadied India, Bangladesh U-19s v India U-19s, Final, Potchefstroom, February 9, 2020

Yashasvi Jaiswal and Tilak Varma have played together for India in age-group cricket  •  ICC via Getty

Yashasvi Jaiswal and Tilak Varma's stellar performances in the IPL have paved a way to the Indian T20I squad with the two quick-scoring left-handers chosen as part of a 15-member squad to play against West Indies from August 3. It is their first call-up to the senior side in the shortest format.
Hardik Pandya captains the team which will play five games in the Caribbean and the USA, with Suryakumar Yadav named his deputy. Some of the other heavy hitters are missing though. Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli haven't represented India in T20Is since their semi-final exit at the 2022 T20 World Cup. Ravindra Jadeja, the hero of the 2023 IPL final, was absent as well. Fast bowler Mohammed Siraj has not been picked either.
This is the first squad chosen by the newly installed men's senior selection panel and they appear to have bought into the idea of needing batters who can go big from ball one, starting with the two rookies. Jaiswal has already developed a reputation as a powerplay smasher, with a particular emphasis on taking apart the first over of the innings. Varma, who had a fan in Mahela Jayawardene even before he faced a ball of IPL cricket, has only grown in stature since then. The middle-order batter averages almost 40 from 47 T20s, without compromising on his strike rate, which is a healthy 142.54.
Shubman Gill and Hardik might act as failsafes if things go wrong but Ajit Agarkar, the new chief of selectors, and his panel have put their trust in a line-up that hits boundaries first and asks questions later. Rinku Singh, who became a revelation by playing that very same brand of cricket in this year's IPL, remains on the outside. This despite the squad looking light on finishers with Hardik being the only recognised option.
India last played T20Is in February 2023, against New Zealand, and seven members of that squad have been sidelined. They are Prithvi Shaw, Rahul Tripathi, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar and Jitesh Sharma, who has been left out without getting a go in the XI.
The bowling group will be led by Yuzvendra Chahal, who is India's highest wicket-taker in T20Is, and he will have two other wristspinners, including his old friend Kuldeep Yadav, for company. Axar Patel ticks the fingerspin requirement.
The seam attack looks a bit inexperienced but it does contain variety with Arshdeep Singh providing swing and seam from a left-arm angle and Umran Malik providing raw pace. Mukesh Kumar retains his place in the T20I team as well having earlier secured his first-ever Test call-up. Avesh Khan, who played the last of his 15 T20Is in August 2022, has been given another shot. IPL winner Deepak Chahar, who returned from injury to play the latter half of the campaign for Chennai Super Kings, wasn't picked.
Sanju Samson, who is part of the ODI squad on tour, and Ishan Kishan are the wicketkeeping options.
India's tour of West Indies begins with the first of two Tests in Dominica on July 12. Then they play three ODIs from July 27 to August 1 before moving on to the T20Is, the final two of which will be played in Florida, USA.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo