Young India led by Gill to tour Zimbabwe; Sanju, Parag in squad

Riyan Parag
Riyan Parag batting for Rajasthan Royals. File photo: PTI

New Delhi: Dashing Assam batter Riyan Parag on Monday became the first north-eastern cricketer to get an India call-up as a new-look T20 squad led by Shubman Gill was unveiled for next month's five-match series in Zimbabwe which will not feature any of the senior stars. The series starting July 6 will be held entirely in Harare.

The national selection committee didn't pick any of the first team players, who are currently playing the T20 World Cup in the West Indies.

All the seniors like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Suryakumar Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja have been rested after a gruelling three-half months, including the hectic IPL. Even the likes of Shivam Dube, Arshdeep Singh, and Kuldeep Yadav have been given a break. It is believed that the selectors want to broaden the pool of players looking at the 2026 T20 World Cup in India.

Sanju Samson
Sanju Samson. File photo: PTI

The announced squad marks a landmark for 21-year-old Parag, who had a stellar IPL season for the Rajasthan Royals with 573 runs which put him in the reckoning.

He became the first player from his state and region to get a call-up in a senior national team. Joining him from the RR camp were his franchise captain Sanju Samson and Dhruv Jurel as the two wicket-keepers in the side.

Punjab skipper Abhishek Sharma, who had a mind-blowing IPL opening with Travis Head for the Sunrisers Hyderabad and his franchise teammate Nitish Reddy from Andhra Pradesh are among the three rookies in the squad of 15 where only Mukesh Kumar is on the wrong side of 30s. The average age of the squad is roughly around 25.

Reddy, a seam-bowling all-rounder is someone who the national selectors have been keeping an eye on for some time. His solid IPL performances and need to have some back-up plan for Hardik Pandya has led to his selection.

Samson and Jurel are Nos 2 and 3
Ishan Kishan seems to have fallen off the pecking order after his differences with the team management and is currently not even among the top three wicketkeepers in the shortest version.

Jurel, who had an impressive Test debut earlier this year, is the second keeper for the series behind Sanju Samson.
Squad: Shubman Gill (Captain), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Abhishek Sharma, Rinku Singh, Sanju Samson (WK), Dhruv Jurel (WK), Nitish Reddy, Riyan Parag, Washington Sundar, Ravi Bishnoi, Avesh Khan, Khaleel Ahmed, Mukesh Kumar, Tushar Deshpande.

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