Team India recently concluded the tour of Sri Lanka with a 2-1 series defeat in the T20Is. India won the opening game but lost the subsequent two matches, probably due to the absence of many first-preference players who were put in isolation after Krunal Pandya was tested COVID-19 positive ahead of the second T20I.

The tour was seen as a big platform for several debutants to prove their mettle to get a spot in the Indian squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup. While there is still some time before BCCI reveals the final squad, former India cricketer Zaheer Khan has picked his 15-member outfit for the global showpiece event.

For the opening slot, Zaheer went with Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, with Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav coming to bat at number three and four, respectively. Zaheer also mentioned that he would only pick Virat as an opener if Hardik Pandya is not available to bowl.

Interestingly, Zaheer didn’t go with Shikhar Dhawan, who is the third-highest run-getter for India in the shortest format. Dhawan has 1759 runs to his name from 68 T20Is, and he is only behind Kohli (3159) and Rohit (2864).

“I will open with KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma. Virat and Surya will follow them. I know Virat has made the statement that he wants to open the innings. But I would still say that Virat only opens in case Hardik is not available to bowl. In that scenario, you can sacrifice one batsman and get an extra bowler,” Zaheer told Cricbuzz.

The Lankan tour went pretty well for Suryakumar as he also earned his maiden international ODI cap. There is no denying that the Pune-lad is now becoming indispensable to the team, and Zaheer also spoke in the same breath.

“Surya, of course, because of the flexibility I’m talking about like you need not to bat him at the number three position. He has shown in this series as well that he can bat at number five as well,” added the 42-year-old.

Zaheer picked Rishabh Pant and Ishan Kishan as wicketkeepers, while Hardik and Ravindra Jadeja as all-rounders. When it comes to the bowling department, the cricketer-turned-analyst named Yuzvendra Chahal as the lead spinner with Rahul Chahar as his backup.

Zaheer named Jasprit Bumrah, and Mohammed Shami, as pacers. He reckoned there could be a toss-up between T Natarajan/Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Washington Sundar/Varun Chakravarthy.

“I have Chahal as the lead leg spinner and also went in with Rahul Chahar as his backup. In this format, we have seen that leg spinner is such a crucial factor. Chakravarthy/Sundar will be the spinners who would be bowling with the new ball. If you want that mystery element, you can choose Chakravarthy, but otherwise, you can go in with Sundar as well,” Zaheer added further.

Here is Zaheer Khan’s 15-member India squad for T20 World Cup:

Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Rahul Chahar, T Natarajan/Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Washington Sundar/Varun Chakravarthy.

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