Varun Chakravarthy was rewarded for his solid performances in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL), earning a place in India's squad for the T20I leg of their upcoming tour of Australia.
The leg-spinner has been quite the revelation for the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the ongoing season, collecting 12 wickets at an average of 23.50 and an economy of 7.05, including a haul of 5/20 in the side's convincing victory over Delhi Capitals on Saturday.
The all India senior selection committee, which met via video conference on Monday to select the squads for the upcoming tour, also included young pacers Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kartik Tyagi, Ishan Porel and T Natarajan in the travel party, according to an official release from the BCCI.
The pacers have all chipped in with noteworthy performances in the ongoing IPL, which had to be shifted to the UAE from India due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Opening batsman Rohit Sharma and seamer Ishant Sharma however, were not included in the squads and are currently under observation, added the release.
Both are nursing injuries at the moment, with Ishant getting ruled out of IPL 2020 after playing just one match due to a rib-cage injury. Rohit, on the other hand, has missed the last two matches for the Mumbai Indians, with Kieron Pollard leading the team in his stead.
In Rohit's absence, the in-form KL Rahul will be Virat Kohli's deputy in the white-ball teams and is also back in the Test squad after a considerable period of time. Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant failed to make the cut for the limited overs even though he retained his place in the Test squad.
The tour of Australia comprises three T20 Internationals, as many ODIs and four Tests. It is set to get underway from 27 November.
It is learnt that in case of Rohit, it might take a good six to eight weeks for complete recovery from the injury that he picked up during the IPL.
"It is unlikely that Rohit will take any further part in this year's Indian Premier League. He will have to go back to India and be at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) for the rehabilitation," a senior BCCI source told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
The story of Monday's selection was undoubtedly Rahul, who is also now India's first-choice keeper in both T20 Internationals and ODIs as selectors finally ran out of patience with Pant.
"Rahul is being looked as India's first choice white-ball keeper till the 2021 World T20 and beyond. Also he has impressed everyone with his leadership skills and that's why this elevation as vice-captain," the source said.
Sanju Samson will be the second wicket-keeper in T20 International squad.
Among other notable inclusions, pacer Mohammed Siraj has been rewarded with a Test call-up for his consistent red-ball performances. The absence of the injured duo of Ishant and Bhuvneshwar Kumar also paved the way for his selection.
"Siraj and (Navdeep) Saini were automatic choices in Test team once Bhuvi (thigh muscle) and Ishant (left rib cage) were ruled out," the source said.
It is understood that Pant's dodgy fitness and tendency to put on weight has not gone down well with Sunil Joshi-led selection committee, which wanted that he be served a wake-up call.
"In any case, all three teams will be there, Pant, if need be, can be added to the squad," the source added.
It is undoubtedly a big day for the 29-year-old Chennai-based architect Varun, who has played 21 representative matches at the senior level, including 11 T20 games " all at the IPL.
His five-wicket haul against Delhi Capitals is one of the highlights of this IPL and he has bowled brilliantly at the death mixing his clever variations.
With Kuldeep Yadav not being preferred by his own franchise for the better part, it is Varun, who has stolen the limelight.
The tour will also prove to be a good exposure for Natarajan, Nagarkoti, Tyagi and Porel.
"Ishan will primarily be a red ball net bowler while Natarajan provides the left-arm variation training for white ball. Kartik Tyagi bowls good yorkers and Kamlesh has pace. In case, any main team bowler gets injured, one of the four can be easily drafted in," the source said.
India T20I squad: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul (vc and wk), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Sanju Samson (wicket-keeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Varun Chakravarthy.
India ODI squad: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul (vc and wk), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur.
India Test squad: Virat Kohli (c), Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vc), Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Mohammed. Siraj.
With inputs from PTI