The recently concluded T20I series between India and Sri Lanka saw as many as 33 players being used; India alone used 19. Yes, you heard that right. Both the teams had to do a lot of chopping and changing as not only playing conditions came into play, but the Covid situation also made the playing eleven vulnerable. 19 players used by India is the most used by an any individual team in any bilateral T20I series. It all began when Krunal Pandya got infected, and stringent Covid protocol made sure that eight ‘close contact’ of the all rounder had to be isolated. As a result, India were forced to make wholesale changes. As many as ten cricketers made their debuts in the series; seven made debuts for India. Here are those seven cricketers.
Prithvi Shaw: The young opener from Mumbai, has made a nice comeback after his terrible outing in Australia last year. He quickly got back to domestic cricket as he turned out to be the top scorer in Vijay Hazare Trophy. He carried this form to IPL and accounted for 308 runs in 8 games. Soon, he was back in the national setup but interestingly, never played a T20I. Well, he did in Sri Lanka when he was handed debut in series opener.
Varun Chakravarthy: The uncanny 29-year-old made headlines in the TNPL (Tamil Nadu Premier League before dazzling in IPL. In last season, he was the at his menacing best grabbing 17 scalps in 13 games; this included a five-for against Delhi Capitals. He managed to take seven wickets in seven games before being hit by Covid-19 when IPL resumed this year in April.
Devdutt Padikkal: Padikkal’s name did the rounds for a couple of years before fans actually figured out what he was made of. His century in IPL 2021 against Rajasthan Royals had class written all over it; he went onto dwarf the great called Virat Kohli throughout the innings as he stood all along praising the youngster from the other end.
Ruturaj Gaikwad: The Maharashtra cricketer waited patiently in the CSK dugout, and when his chance came, he delivered with his best foot forward. CSK was already out of IPL and they were playing for pride; captain MS Dhoni wasn’t happy with the state of youngsters around but then came Gaikwad. Three consecutive half-centuries in IPL 2020 made sure that the 24-year-old gets a national reckoning. Thankfully for Covid, it came early.
Nitish Rana: Rana has been around for a long time. His consistent scores since IPL 2015 made him a lot of fans, but never quite sealed the deal for him as far as Indian team was concerned. Rana is not only a consistent performer; he oozes confidence with his batting. His cuts and pulls are aggressive to say the least. It is beyond comprehension that he made his India debut so late(at 27). Unfortunately, he failed to take those chances, scoring 6 and 1.
Chetan Sakariya: Sakariya comes from an impoverished family. There was a time when he didn’t have money to buy spike shoes—crucial to any fast bowler. But how times have changed. An IPL stint with Rajasthan Royals saw a turnaround in his fortunes. Meanwhile his life didn’t become that easy. He lost his father during the second Covid wave days after his IPL debut. Sakariya eventually made his India debut in the second T20I and also took a wicket.
Sandeep Warrier: Warrier was also the reserve bowler for the Indian team during the home series against England earlier this year. Warrier, who plies his trade for Kerala in the domestic circuit, is a seasoned bowler and was the leading wicket-taker in the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2018-19 picking 12 wickets in six matches.