rohit sharma
Rohit Sharma (AFP Photo)

Rohit Sharma has said that the upcoming three-match T20I series against West Indies provides India with a perfect opportunity to test a host of youngsters and backup players as they fine-tune their preparations for the ICC World Cup to be held next year.

Rohit will be leading the squad in the absence of Virat Kohli who has been given a rest after leading India to comprehensive victories in the preceding Test and ODI series against West Indies at home.

Apart from Kohli, selectors have also dropped MS Dhoni from the T20 squad including for the Australia T20s later this month.

While acknowledging the massive hole the absence of a player of Dhon’s experience leaves in the side, the stand-in skipper said that also gives them a chance to test and build up a strong bench strength.

“Dhoni has been such a massive player for us, over the years,” Rohit said on the eve of the first T20I against West Indies to be played at Eden Gardens. “His experience in the middle will be missed but again Rishabh (Pant) and Dinesh (Karthik) have great opportunity to come and perform and show what they are capable of as well. It gives them an opportunity to express themselves.”

Stressing on the need for building a big pool of players Rohit said, “We cannot go into the World Cup with limited resources. We need to have options. This gives you a great platform to try and test all these guys.”

He continued “It’s very important because the amount of cricket we play, at the same time we got to see what our bench strength is. The players we are talking of are possible replacements to come and fill in. We have to see the guys who are knocking the door and what they bring to the table. Not just the 15 players we got to see what is outside the 15 players we have. There are a lot of new faces in the team,” he said.

Shahbaz Nadeem (maiden India call-up) and Krunal Pandya are the two uncapped players in the T20I squad. Rohit hinted the duo could be making their India debut in the series. “Shahbaz Nadeem has come in the team for the first time, Krunal (Pandya) was part of the team but didn’t play any games. These are the few names who have come and we got to see them what they have in their armoury for us to make the best possible squad in the World Cup,” he said.