Be it ODI or T20Is, picking an India XI should qualify to be one of the hardest tasks available currently because of the amount of talent at disposal. This unimaginable pool of talent has created two genuine problems. Firstly, whoever misses out on a spot in the XI, appears to be hard done by. Secondly, there’s no settled XI as very few get a long rope. They are often replaced despite performing well when seniors like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja return. One of the most unfortunate ones among this lot is Sanju Samson, who despite all the talent and good enough knocks at the international level, often finds himself outside the playing XI. The reason most of the time is Rishabh Pant. The left-handed wicketkeeper-batter, who has already turned out to be one of India’s best-ever keeper-batter in Test cricket, hasn’t quite set the stage alight white-ball cricket that consistently but is given a long run. And that is where the fans get irked.
Friday was one of those rare occasions when India decided to field both Pant and Samson in the XI. The Hardik Pandya-led Indian team management drew a lot of flak for not picking the Rajasthan Royals captain in the T20I series but Shikhar Dhawan, who now took over as the captain in the ODI series, straightaway got Samson in the mix. But it was not in place of Pant, who incidentally is also the vice-captain of the side.
Because India picked both Samson and Pant in the XI, they had to go in with a bowler short. They have five genuine bowling options, make no mistake but since none of their top six batters bowl, ideally, the inclusion of Deepak Hooda was warranted. But there was no space for the Baroda all-rounder. Deepak Chahar too didn’t find a place in the XI as India picked Shardul Thakur as the seam-bowling all-rounder.
Here is how fans reacted to Pant’s inclusion in the India XI for the first ODI against New Zealand
In another major development, India handed ODI debuts to seamers Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik. The latter, like Samson, didn’t get a game in the T20I series but was handed his ODI cap in Auckland.
India: Shikhar Dhawan (C), Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant, 4 Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Sanju Samson, Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Umran Malik, Arshdeep Singh and Yuzvendra Chahal.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (C), Finn Allen, Devon Conway, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Adam Milne, Matt Henry, Tim Southee and Lockie Ferguson.