DEHLI: India on Wednesday called in national legend M.S. Dhoni to act as team mentor for the Twenty20 World Cup starting next month.
The 40-year-old, who retired from international cricket last year, is India’s most successful captain having won the World Cup, the inaugural T20 World Cup, and the Champions Trophy.
Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Jay Shah said current captain Virat Kohli supported the move to have Dhoni with the side for the tournament in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
“I spoke to him when I was in Dubai and he agreed to mentor the team,” Shah said when announcing the World Cup squad.
“I spoke to the captain, the vice-captain and coach Ravi Shastri and we came to this conclusion.”
Senior spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has been named in the 15-member World Cup squad that also includes four additional spinners including Varun Chakravarthy who only made his international T20 debut this year.
Ashwin, a 34-year-old off-spinner, returns to the limited-overs fold after four years since playing a T20 for the national side in July 2017.
Chief selector Chetan Sharma called Chakravarthy’s inclusion a “surprise package” for the opposition teams.
Opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan remains one of the notable omissions from the squad after he recently led India on a limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka.
Sharma said Dhawan has been rested and “will be back soon”.
Wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have also been left out with the selectors opting for Chakravarthy and legspinner Rahul Chahar instead.
Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel come in as all-rounders while Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah lead the pace pack.
Indian Premier league (IPL) stars Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan — both part of holders Mumbai Indians team — have made the squad.
Sharma said the left-handed Kishan gives the batting flexibility with his ability to open and bat in the middle order.
“We have three openers. We have Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Ishan Kishan who can bat as an opener and fit in the middle-order as well,” said Sharma.
“Ishan is giving us opportunities…He is a good player of spin in the middle overs. If need of the hour arises to make Kohli open and the management thinks it that way then it’s fine, otherwise, we have three openers.”
The World Cup runs from October 17 to November 14.
India begin their campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan on October 24 in Dubai.
Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Rahul Chahar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Varun Chakravarthy, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami
Shreyas Iyer, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar