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India's T20 World Cup:Mentor MS Dhoni, India T20 15-man team.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Wednesday, announced Team India’s 15-member squad for the T20 World Cup 2021.

The following nine names were certainties in India's T20 World Cup squad: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The other six - or nine, counting the reserves - in the final squad had to beat stiff competition, understandably. The pitches in UAE are expected to have a fair bit of wear and tear, so the quality of spin bowling, as well as batting against spin, were deemed crucial. That probably played a part in the selection of Ishan Kishan, Rahul Chahar, R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Varun Chakravarthy and Mohammed Shami.

Talking about the squad, chief selector Chetan Sharma said: “Ashwin is an asset. He performed well in the IPL and we needed a player of his experience. “He is the only off-spinner in the squad. Varun is a mystery spinner who is a surprise package for the world,” he was quoted as saying.

India have played 63 T20Is since Ashwin last appeared in white-ball cricket at the international level - he played in a T20I against West Indies in July 2017 - but he has been a force in the IPL.

He fished out an old quote he had jotted down in his diary in 2017 on Twitter. “Every tunnel has light at the end of it. But only those in the tunnel who believe in the light will live to see it,” it read. The off-spinner added: “I wrote this quote down a million times in my diary before putting this up on the wall! Quotes that we read and admire have more power when we internalise them and apply in life.”

Ashwin's inclusion means India have five spinners and just three frontline seamers in their squad. Chetan Sharma, the chairman of selectors, explained that was because the pitches were expected to heavily favour spinners. "If the wickets are such that you can only play two fast men, there is no point then to bench (the extra fast bowlers)," he said. "Instead you have utility players who will come in handy at some point in the match and that is why you have spinners and allrounders."

He offers more than just his craft too. Ashwin brings in aggression, coolness, experience and leadership. In the 50-over World Cup, India’s bowlers had at times lacked a leader to fall back on in times of duress and dilemma. Moreover, he is an impact player, one who could alter the tone of the match in a two-over burst, and a big-match player, an assurance in knockouts. In the UAE, where pitches have been historically slow and low, and with the prospect of deterioration over a lengthy tournament, Ashwin could be a monster wrecking ball for batsmen.

As India announced their squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup, a plethora of reactions poured in from all corners of the world with the biggest crowd-pleaser being the inclusion of Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the mentor. Dhoni has been brought in for his experience in devising near-perfect white ball strategies and for knowing what it takes to win crucial ICC tournaments, where trophies have remained elusive for his successor.

One of the most successful captains in the history of Indian cricket, the enigmatic wicketkeeper-batsman led India to two world titles — the 2007 T20 World Cup in South Africa and the 2011 ODI World Cup in India.

The BCCI is hopeful that Dhoni will help Kohli crack the white-ball code. “No one can guide this Indian team better than Dhoni. He has plenty of experience and the players trust him a lot. His presence in the dugout will help players and support staff. Jay (Shah) felt that Dhoni is the only person who can help the team during the T20 World Cup, so he dialled him,” a BCCI official said.

Dhoni is currently with his IPL team Chennai Super Kings, gearing up for the resumption of the league from 19 September in the UAE.

India gets its campaign underway against Pakistan on October 24 in Dubai, followed by New Zealand (October 31, Dubai), Afghanistan (November 3, Abu Dhabi), B1 qualifier (November 5, Dubai) and A2 qualifier (November 8, Dubai). The final would be played on November 14 in Dubai.

India is currently the second-ranked side in the ICC T20I Rankings, behind England. It was knocked out in the competition's semis during the last edition in 2016, held in India, as it had lost to eventual champion Windies. It would be taking part in the tournament for the seventh time, winning the title during its inaugural edition in 2007, under the leadership of MS Dhoni. Meanwhile, BCCI secretary Jay Shah also announced that the side would be mentored by the former title-winning captain.

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