Mumbai: Yuvraj Singh has made a comeback to the 15-member India squad announced for the ICC World Twenty20, which is scheduled to take place in Sri Lanka next month. Also recalled in a 15-man squad were Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla and L Balaji.
Yuvraj's selection is a tremendous boost for the allrounder following his treatment for a mediastinal seminoma, a rare germ cell cancer, in the United States. His last appearance for India was in a Test match against West Indies in Kolkata in November 2011, and his last one-day match was the World Cup final against Sri Lanka in April that year. The 30-year-old recovered after undergoing an extensive medication and therapy in the United States and trained in Bangalore recently as he targeted the Twenty20 format as the best option for him to begin his return to competitive cricket.
Harbhajan has made been named after almost a year on the sidelines. The 32-year-old was dropped from all formats after a terrible tour of England and it was widely believed that his days were numbered. He returned to domestic cricket in an attempt to revive his India career but returned ordinary numbers: he took seven wickets at 41.14 in eight domestic 50-over matches and in six Twenty20 matches managed four wickets at 31.75. Captaining Mumbai Indians in the subsequent IPL, Harbhajan took just six wickets from 17 matches at an average of 64.00 and strike-rate of 54.00. Playing for Essex in the Clydesdale Bank 40 in England, he currently has five wickets from two matches.
Another name that might not be as surprising but is sure to raise eyebrows is that of Chawla, the 23-year-old legspinner who hasn't played for India since the 2011 World Cup. He was Kings XI Punjab's second-highest wicket-taker in IPL 5, and his 16 victims were the best for an Indian spinner. Chawla's last Twenty20 for India was in June 2010.
Though the 30-year-old Balaji has not played for India since February 2009 but was outstanding in the IPL and his selection is recognition of that fact. Balaji's economy rate of 5.40 from eight matches was the best of the tournament, while his average of 14.72 was sixth best overall. Balaji's miserly and penetrative form with the ball was a major factor in Kolkata Knight Riders reaching the IPL final, and though he did not play in that match his captain Gautam Gambhir dedicated the victory to his trusted bowler.
R Ashwin is the other spinner in the squad, while Ravindra Jadeja could not find a place. Irfan Pathan has been included after a strong showing in the recent Sri Lanka series. Ashok Dinda has been included after taking 4 for 19 in India's Twenty20 win over Sri Lanka.
Rohit Sharma has been named despite having a poor 2012, as has Manoj Tiwary after two strong performances in Sri Lanka. As in the Test squad to face New Zealand, there is no reserve wicketkeeper.
India's Twenty20 squad: MS Dhoni (capt/wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Irfan Pathan, R Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, L Balaji, Piyush Chawla, Harbhajan Singh, Ashok Dinda