Yuvraj Singh and wicketkeepers Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant have been omitted from India's squad for the limited-overs leg of the Sri Lanka tour. The selectors also opted to rest the spin duo of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja along with Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Shami, the team's frontline seamers during the Test series. Seamer Shardul Thakur and legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal were drafted into the 15-man squad, which also features the fit-again KL Rahul, an in-form Manish Pandey and Jasprit Bumrah, who was rested for the West Indies series. Rohit Sharma also returns to the squad as vice-captain after being rested for the West Indies tour.
At 35, Yuvraj's time may be running out as the selectors probably showed the first definitive signs of identifying a fresh middle-order combination in the lead up to the 2019 World Cup. Ever since his 32-ball 53 against Pakistan in the Champions Trophy, Yuvraj has gone six innings without a half-century, and managed only 57 runs in his three most recent innings in the West Indies.
While Karthik, who scored an unbeaten 50 in one of the two games he played in the West Indies, finds himself out of the squad, he might not yet be out of contention for a berth in the middle order, given his form in domestic cricket too. The middle order in Sri Lanka will comprise MS Dhoni, Pandey and Kedar Jadhav. Pandey's selection is a reward for his consistent run in India A's victorious campaign in the recent tri-nation series involving South Africa and Afghanistan. He emerged as the highest run-scorer in the tournament with 307 runs in five innings, with scores of 32*, 93*, 86*, 41* and 55.
With Rahul and Rohit returning to occupy the opening slot, Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane will have their task cut out. While Dhawan has a better strike-rate and scored two centuries in the ongoing Test series against Sri Lanka, Rahane comes into the series on the back of some impressive recent limited-overs form. With 336 runs in five innings, including three fifties and a hundred, Rahane topped the run charts in the West Indies series.
The bowling attack is heavy on wristspin with Kuldeep Yadav and Chahal in the ranks. The inclusions of Thakur, Axar and Chahal - each of whom has figured in the selection panel's long list for some time now - have underscored the importance of good performances in the A tours, with nine, seven and six wickets each. Axar, who was called up as cover for Jadeja in the Pallekelle Test, will have a part to play with the bat as well, in the lower middle order.