Dinesh Karthik (left) has been axed from the ODI squad, while KL Rahul returns in both formats for India’s upcoming limited overs series against Australia.

Karthik Dropped, Rahul Returns for India’s ODI Series vs Australia

India have axed Dinesh Karthik from the squad for their upcoming five-match ODI series at home against Australia, giving Rishabh Pant the nod of approval for what is their last assignment ahead of the ICC World Cup in May.

Captain Virat Kohli returns after being rested for the latter stages of the New Zealand tour, as does Jasprit Bumrah who features for the first time since India’s Test series win in Australia.

The big comeback, though, is that of KL Rahul – who makes an Indian squad for the first time since his controversial appearance on Koffee With Karan.

The BCCI selection committee, who met in Mumbai, named three squads: one for a two-match T20I series to kickstart Australia’s tour of India, and two for the ODIs.

The 15-man roster for the final three matches appears to be the full-strength squad of the team management’s liking – and perhaps an indicator to what the eventual squad for the World Cup might look like.

T20I Squad: Umesh, Markande Included

Australia’s limited overs tour of India kicks off with two T20Is, and these are the only games for which Karthik has been picked.

While India’s batting wears a usual – and strong – look, the bowling department has a slightly second-string look. Bumrah is back from his well-earned break, but Kuldeep Yadav has been given a breather, and been replaced by Mayank Markande.

Punjab leg-spinner Markande, who made an impression playing for Mumbai Indians in the IPL last year, receives a maiden India call-up.

Pacers Umesh Yadav and Siddarth Kaul, too, are in the mix.

India Squad for T20Is vs Australia

  • Virat Kohli (c)
  • Rohit Sharma (vc)
  • KL Rahul
  • Shikhar Dhawan
  • Rishabh Pant
  • Dinesh Karthik
  • MS Dhoni (wk)
  • Hardik Pandya
  • Krunal Pandya
  • Vijay Shankar
  • Yuzvendra Chahal
  • Jasprit Bumrah
  • Umesh Yadav
  • Siddarth Kaul
  • Mayank Markande
(Photo: Reuters)
Siddarth Kaul has been named in India’s squad for the T20Is as well as the first two ODIs against Australia.

First 2 ODIs: Shot for Sid Kaul?

While the ODI squad has been split in two – one for the first two games, one for the final three – there is only one difference in the two units.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s workload management allows him a four-game break, and the seamer will sit out of both the T20Is and the first two ODIs, with Siddarth Kaul taking his spot in the 50-over setup.

Kaul’s inclusion at the expense of Khaleel Ahmed, who was part of the squads that won ODI series in Australia and New Zealand, suggests the end of the road for the young left-arm pacer’s World Cup hopes.

With the first-half of the five-match contest seemingly the last leg of trial-and-error, the lineup indicates several others believed to be in contention – most notably Ajinkya Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja – are not near the selectors’ plans for the trip to England.

India Squad for First 2 ODIs vs Australia

  • Virat Kohli (c)
  • Rohit Sharma (vc)
  • Shikhar Dhawan
  • Ambati Rayudu
  • Kedar Jadhav
  • MS Dhoni (wk)
  • Hardik Pandya
  • Jasprit Bumrah
  • Mohammed Shami
  • Yuzvendra Chahal
  • Kuldeep Yadav
  • Vijay Shankar
  • Rishabh Pant
  • Siddarth Kaul
  • KL Rahul

Final 3 ODIs: The World Cup Mix?

The exclusion of Karthik aside, the 15 players selected for the final three ODIs against Australia seem to suggest the mix the team management has in mind for India’s bid for a third World Cup crown.

With six specialist batsmen, two wicketkeeper-batsmen, two seam-bowling all-rounders, two spinners and three specialist pacers, the combination of the squad appears ideal for a lengthy tournament, involving at least nine (going up to 11) matches.

Pant and Rahul have been offered a priceless lifeline in the final challenge ahead of the World Cup, despite their limited experience in one-dayers (Pant has only played three ODIs, Rahul 13).

Rahul’s inclusion comes on the back of a pair of 80s for India A in their unofficial Tests against England Lions, while Pant gave a glimpse of his big-hitting during the T20Is in New Zealand.

India Squad for Final 3 ODIs vs Australia

  • Virat Kohli (c)
  • Rohit Sharma (vc)
  • Shikhar Dhawan
  • Ambati Rayudu
  • Kedar Jadhav
  • MS Dhoni (wk)
  • Hardik Pandya
  • Bhuvneshwar Kumar
  • Jasprit Bumrah
  • Yuzvendra Chahal
  • Kuldeep Yadav
  • Mohammed Shami
  • Vijay Shankar
  • KL Rahul
  • Rishabh Pant