Hardik Pandya, ahead of the two-match T20I series against Ireland, said that captaincy brings the best out of him. The 28-year-old will be leading India for the first time and it comes only months before the 20-over World Cup to be played in Australia

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While Pandya, India’s sixth skipper across formats in the past year, will be under the spotlight all the time, a returning Suryakumar Yadav and Sanju Samson will be players to look out for. 

Yadav, who plays for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL, was ruled out of the T20I series against South Africa with a wrist injury. He comes to Ireland after a month-long break, which means coming back into form and firing at the No 4 spot could be a big task. 

Sanju Samson, on the other hand, will be returning to the India playing XI in place of Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant, who are busy with the England Test. 

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The series against Ireland starts Sunday.

Regular chief coach Rahul Dravid is in Leicester with the Test squad. In his absence, National Cricket Academy (NCA) head VVS Laxman will guide the Pandya-led side. 

Deepak Hooda is another player who has a point to prove. The hard-hitter, who is a handy off-spin option, had a 451-run IPL season with the Lucknow Super Giants. However, if one looks at coach Dravid’s philosophy, he doesn’t believe in casting his net too wide and exploring too many options. He also needs to close in on spots by the time India play the Asia Cup.

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While Ruturaj Gaikwad has not been very successful, the Chennai Super Kings opener might just get two more chances against a weak Ireland side, against whom he can score some runs and get his confidence back.

Ishan Kishan, who has all but sealed the reserve opener’s slot for the next few months, will continue in his role for the time being and will open with regular skipper Rohit Sharma in the England leg of the T20Is also.


India – Hardik Pandya (c), Bhuvneshwar Kumar (VC), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Sanju Samson, Rahul Tripathi, Deepak Hooda, Venkatesh Iyer, Axar Patel, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Avesh Khan, Harshal Patel, Umran Malik, Arshdeep Singh, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi

Ireland – Andrew Balbirnie (c), Harry Tector, Gareth Delany, Paul Stirling, Curtis Campher, Stephen Doheny, Lorcan Tucker, Mark Adair, George Dockrell, Joshua Little, Andy McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Conor Olphert, Craig Young