Calcutta/New Delhi: Akshar Patel, the Gujarat and Kings XI Punjab left-arm spinner, has been added as the 15th member to the India squad for the remaining two ODIs against West Indies.
Akshar, along with Kolkata Knight Riders’ Manish Pandey, has also been included in the 14-man squad for the only T20 International in Cuttack that follows the ODIs.
Akshar, who has played three ODIs, made his India debut against Bangladesh in June. He was the second-most successful spinner in the recent Champions League T20 behind Sunil Narine with eight wickets from five games at an economy-rate of 6.15.
Ishant Sharma, who was brought in to replace the injured Mohit Sharma, has been retained.
India and the West Indies are currently locked 1-1 in the ODIs after the third match in Visakhapatnam was cancelled due to cyclone Hudhud. The remaining two matches will be held in Dharamsala and Calcutta.
Pandey, the first Indian to make a century in the IPL, is yet to make his international debut. He has featured in every season of the IPL so far and made 2373 runs from 106 T20s at an average of 26.96 and a strike-rate of 116.43.
Pandey was rewarded for his decent performance in the IPL VII, in which he scored 401 runs in 16 matches at an average of 30.84 for Knight Riders. His strike rate was an impressive 117.94 during the IPL.
Patel, on the other hand, was in good form with the ball while turning up for Kings XI Punjab this season. He took 17 wickets in 17 games at a fine average of 23.82.
Pandey and Patel replaced Dhawal Kulkarni and Ambati Rayudu in the Twenty20 side, which was last seen in action during the tour of England.
It took Pandey some time to break the national deadlock but now that he has been included in the T20 squad, he does not want to let it go.
“Undoubtedly, today is one of the best days of my career. You wait for that chance to don the India colours. That’s why you play the game and want to perform to the best of your abilities.
“Since the door has finally opened for me, I want to make best use of it and play for the country for a long time,” said Pandey.
Pandey feels that post his match-winning innings of 94 in IPL final, he was hopeful he might be rewarded. “Obviously, this year’s IPL performance was a big plus for me. I was in good form and was consistent. IPL final was a big platform and I was happy to have contributed to KKR's winning cause,” said Pandey.
“The best part about scoring in the IPL is the quality of bowling attack you play through the entire tournament. It's of international standard and when you score runs against the top bowlers in world cricket, you know that you have the ability. That helps in building confidence and self-belief.”
There has been a lot of criticism of Pandey for being too aggressive and throwing away his wicket.
“Look, I have a particular style of batting and the idea is to remain aggressive as a player. I would never ever trade anything for that.”
The Telegraph, Calcutta