ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021
Dhoni, Ashwin join India's T20 World Cup party
More than four years since his last T20 for India, Ravichandran Ashwin has been included in the T20 World Cup squad while MS Dhoni will fill a 'mentor' role
9 September 2021, 07:56 AM AEST
India have picked off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in their 15-man squad for this year's T20 World Cup and named MS Dhoni, who led them to the 2007 title, as the team mentor.
Ashwin last played a T20 International four years ago but was one of three specialist slow bowlers selected on Wednesday, along with leg-spinner Rahul Chahar and mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy.
The tournament, which begins next month, was scheduled to be held in India but the COVID-19 situation in the country forced organisers to shift it to the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
"The wickets in the UAE are usually low and slow and you need an off-spinner in your side," chief selector Chetan Sharma told a virtual news conference.
"Ashwin has been doing consistently well in the Indian Premier League over the years. Washington Sundar could have been another option but he remains injured."
It's good news at last for Ashwin, who has had a frustrating time on the current tour to England, being left out of the Test side.
Wrist-spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav were omitted and opener Shikhar Dhawan was also left out.
Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul are likely to open for India while Ishan Kishan, who can also keep wicket, was picked as a third option.
"Ishan Kishan can open the innings and he can fit in the middle order as well," Chetan Sharma said. "He gives us lot of options."
Captain Virat Kohli has been toying with the idea of opening the innings and Sharma said the team management would take a final call on this.
India named three allrounders in the squad – Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel.
Suryakumar Yadav was picked ahead of fellow Mumbai player Shreyas Iyer, who is returning from a shoulder injury and has been named as one of three reserves.
The Indian board has also caused a surprise by bringing in Dhoni as the team mentor. He retired from international cricket last August but has been appointed to "provide support and direction" to the Indian team management, led by head coach Ravi Shastri.
Inaugural champions India begin their bid for a second title in a Super 12 match in Dubai against arch-rivals Pakistan on October 24.
Squad: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Rahul Chahar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Varun Chakravarthy, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami.
2021 Men's T20 World Cup key info
Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins (vc), Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa. Travelling reserves: Dan Christian, Nathan Ellis, Daniel Sams
How teams are grouped
Group A: Sri Lanka, Ireland, Netherlands, Namibia
Group B: Bangladesh, Scotland, Papua New Guinea, Oman
Group 1: England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies, A1, B2
Group 2: India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Afghanistan, B1, A2