The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced the squad on Wednesday evening for the event which will be held in Oman and UAE from October 17 and November 14.
Veteran off-spinner Ashwin has not played limited-overs cricket for India since 2017, named ahead of the likes of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.
“Ishan Kishan can open the innings and he can fit in the middle order as well,” BCCI chief selector Chetan Sharma said. “He gives us lot of options.”
On Ashwin, Sharma added: “The wickets in the UAE are usually low and slow and you need an off-spinner in your side.
“Ashwin has been doing consistently well in the Indian Premier League over the years. Washington Sundar could have been another option but he remains injured.”
Dhoni’s inclusion as a team mentor comes as a surprise, aimed to “provide support and direction” to team management.
“As far as Dhoni is concerned, I spoke to him when I was in Dubai,” BCCI Honorary Secretary Jay Shah said. “He was okay with the decision, and he agreed to be a mentor for team India, for the T20 World Cup only.
“I spoke to the captain (Virat Kohli) and vice-captain (Rohit Sharma) as well as Ravi Shastri (the head coach) and thats why we reached the conclusion.”
India T20 World Cup Squad: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Rahul Chahar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Varun Chakravarthy, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami.