Yuvraj Singh has made an expected return to the 15-member Indian squad for the only T20 and the first three ODIs of the seven-match series against Australia. However, there was no place for discarded seniors Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh.
There are very few surprises in the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led squad that has performed admirably by winning the ICC Champions Trophy and the tri-series in West Indies. The return of Yuvraj, the stylish 31-year-old left-hander is the only major change. Yuvraj has replaced wicket-keeper batsman Dinesh Karthik in the squad. (Also read: Gavaskar reckons Yuvi's bowling, fielding will help team too)
There are four changes from the Indian squad that won the Champions Trophy in June this year. Along with Karthik being replaced by Yuvraj, Murali Vijay has lost his place to Ambati Rayudu. Ajinkya Rahane was also in contention for this position of reserve batsman but in the end the Sandeep Patil headed panel opted for Rayudu. All-rounder Irfan Pathan is not fit while pacer Umesh Yadav has been dropped after a poor showing in the Challenger Trophy. Specialist bowlers Jaydev Unadkat and Shami Ahmed have been drafted in.
Yuvraj last played an ODI for India on January 27 against England at Dharamsala and was dropped subsequently due to a poor run of form and a lack of fitness. Having undergone a rigorous physical training camp in France, a fitter Yuvraj made his comeback into the competitive cricket with a bang scoring 123, 40 and 61 in three List A matches against the West Indies A, followed by a quick-fire 52 against the same opponent in a T20 game. (Related: Yuvraj and the over that changed everything)
He carried on with his good form in the Challenger Trophy for India Blue where he scored 84 against India Red and a 29 in the final against Delhi.
The batting line-up remains pretty much the same with Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Dhoni being automatic selections. Yuvraj's inclusion as the a specialist batsman in the playing XI means he will bolster the middle-order that was always a bit vulnerable. The first-choice bowling line-up will include R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and possibly Vinay Kumar.
According to sources, the names of Sehwag and Gambhir did not even come up for discussion but the selectors will be following their performance in the four-day match against the West Indies A in Hubli, Karnataka from Wednesday.
Squad for Australia: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Vinay Kumar, Amit Mishra, Ambati Rayudu, Mohammed Shami, Jaydev Unadkat.
The schedule of the matches is as follows:
T20 International - Rajkot - 10 October
First ODI - Pune - 13 October
Second ODI - Jaipur - 16 October
Third ODI - Mohali - 19 October