The selectors were expected to check the bench strength and they did just that when they met in Mumbai to pick a 15-member Indian team for the Zimbabwe series. The five-match series is to be played from July 24 to August 3.
So,out went MS Dhoni,Ishant Sharma,Ravichandran Ashwin,Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar,all rested. Murali Vijay,however,was dropped due to his indifferent form in limited-overs cricket and Cheteshwar Pujara,who was not in the squads for the Champions Trophy and the ongoing tri-series in the West Indies,was eventually brought in to lend solidity to batting.
Ajinkya Rahane too was brought back to the ODI fold,while Jaydev Unadkat,the left-arm seamer from Saurashtra who played a Test three years ago,Haryana medium pacer Mohit Sharma and Jammu and Kashmir off-spinner Parvez Rasool were the new entrants. Rasool,who has been in India’s A squads before has scored 1,003 runs and has taken 46 wickets in 17 first-class matches,and was rewarded with a spot in the team.
Twenty-four-year-old Mohit Sharma has picked up 44 wickets over the last two first-class seasons. He also had a very impressive IPL season with the Chennai Super Kings this time,while Unadkat’s performance with the Royal Challengers Bangalore helped him earn the call-up.
Virat Kohli will continue to lead in Dhoni’s absence and his appointment for a full series confirmed his status as the official No. 2 in the team. Incidentally,the BCCI didn’t name a vice-captain for the Champions Trophy and the tri-series in West Indies,but after Dhoni pulled a hamstring in Jamaica,Kohli was given the reins. As far as Dhoni’s injury is concerned,BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel said: He (Dhoni) will visit his doctor for a second time tomorrow and after that we will know how long it will take (for him) to recover fully.
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Sandeep Patil,Roger Binny and Vikram Rathour who were by Saba Karim and Rajinder Singh Hans via video conference from the West Indies,had two specific agenda. Selecting the reserves without affecting the balance of the side was the top priority.
Pujara was in the squad for the home ODI series against England in January but didn’t get a game. However,according to a selector,now that he has been brought back,he will be given a longer run. Pujara offers flexibility because he can be used a back-up opening option as well. The committee also decided to rest all three frontline pace bowlers and Ashwin among the spinners,with an eye on a long and gruelling season ahead .
This meant that the likes of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag continued to get the snub from the selectors. We didn’t discuss Gautam Gambhir (and other senior players). The discussion was about the youngsters who could be thrown into the mix, a top BCCI official told The Indian Express.
The selectors also picked the India A squad for the South Africa tour with Pujara leading the side. That ten of the India players for Zimbabwe are in the A side indicate that the Board is taking that tour seriously. Ishwar Pandey,Siddharth Kaul,Shahbaz Nadeem and Stuart Binny have largely performed at the Ranji levels while Vijay too has been included in the India A squad. The India A tour starts on August 8 and the side will play a tri-series with South Africa A and Australia A before taking on the hosts in two four-day fixtures.
India Team for Zimbabwe: Virat Kohli (captain),Shikhar Dhawan,Rohit Sharma,Dinesh Karthik,Cheteshwar Pujara,Suresh Raina,Ambati Rayudu,Ajinkya Rahane,Ravindra Jadeja,Amit Mishra,Parvez Rasool,Shami Ahmed,Vinay Kumar,Jaydev Unadkat,Mohit Sharma
India A squad for South Africa: Cheteshwar Pujara (captain),Shikhar Dhawan,Murali Vijay,Rohit Sharma,Suresh Raina,Ambati Rayudu,Dinesh Karthik,Ajinkya Rahane,Wriddhiman Saha,Parvez Rasool,Shahbaz Nadeem,Shami Ahmed,Stuart Binny,Ishwar Pandey,Jaidev Unadkat,Siddharth Kaul.