India captain Virat Kohli was given a much-needed rest from the upcoming ODI series against Sri Lanka while spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja continued to be ignored in the 50-over format. While Kohli will play in the third Test in New Delhi starting December 2, his limited-overs deputy Rohit Sharma will be leading the squad in the three-match ODI series starting December 10.
Ashwin and Jadeja's continued exclusion is a clear indication that they are not in the immediate scheme of things in this format.
Shreyas Iyer, who made his T20 international debut against New Zealand last month, has earned his maiden call-up in the ODI side and is expected to bat in Kohli's place at number three.
The squad also includes uncapped Punjab right-arm medium pacer Siddharth Kaul, who was incidentally a member of the 2008 U-19 World Cup winning team, which was led by Kohli.
Kaul has played for India A and has 175 wickets from 50 first-class games and 98 scalps from 52 List A (domestic 50- overs) games. The medium pacer has also been a part of IPL franchises Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders.
The squad for the T20 Internationals against the islanders and the Test tour of South Africa has been put off till the third and final match in the national capital.
While the squad for the third Test remained unchanged, ODI specialists like former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, star all-rounder Hardik Pandya, batsman Kedar Jadhav along with speedsters Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah returned to the 50-over format.
On expected lines, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal also came back in the squad.
It was learnt that since Kohli will be playing the third Test in Delhi, he requested the selectors to pick the squad for the South Africa Tests during that game. Chief selector MSK Prasad and his panel agreed to Kohli's request.
Off-spinner Ashwin and left-arm spinner Jadeja have now been dropped for the fourth consecutive limited overs series starting from the away games against Sri Lanka.
While Prasad and Co had indicated that they were being rested in Sri Lanka, but they were also not picked for the subsequent series against Australia, New Zealand and now the home leg of the Sri Lanka ODIs.
This was after Ashwin (8/120) and Jadeja (5/84) grabbed 13 of the 20 wickets on an unresponsive Nagpur track.
"I would not say it is cast in stone but it could well be that Indian cricket is finally moving towards the direction of having separate teams for red and white ball cricket," said former India wicketkeeper and cricket analyst Deep Dasgupta.
He added, "Possibly, the two wrist spinners (Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav) are more attacking and wicket-taking options. In case they need a restrictive option, they have Axar Patel, who can bowl those tight lines."
It was learnt that both Ashwin and Jadeja have been intimated by the selectors about their intentions going into the 2019 World Cup.
Before being dropped from the ODIs, wickets had dried up for both the Test specialists. In his last 10 ODIs, Jadeja got only seven wickets while Ashwin had only 10 from his last 10 games. Their economy rates have been pretty decent with 4.90 for Jadeja and 4.91 for Ashwin.
Chahal has an economy rate of 4.56 in his 14-match ODI career and has got 21 wickets. Similarly Kuldeep, with an economy rate of 4.94, has 19 wickets from 12 ODIs, including a hat-trick against Australia.
The figures indicate that while the economy rates are pretty similar, Kuldeep and Chahal are now wicket-taking options for an attacking captain like Kohli.
Unless the two young spinners do terribly in South Africa and subsequently in England, the doors in limited overs format looks all but shut for Jadeja and Ashwin.
India squad for the third Test: Virat Kohli (Captain), M Vijay, KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (Vice-Captain), Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Vijay Shankar
India squad for the ODI series: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (WK), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.