The Indian cricket team will get an opportunity to test its bench strength when its fringe players led by Suresh Raina square off against minnows Bangladesh in a short three-match ODI series starting in Dhaka on Sunday.
The decision taken by the BCCI to rest seven key players including skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, his deputy Virat Kohli and premier batsman Rohit Sharma provides the likes of Robin Uthappa, Manoj Tiwary, Parveez Rasool and Akshar Patel a chance to showcase their skills against a Bangladesh side led by the gutsy Mushfiqur Rahim.
However, the absence of Dhoni and Co has definitely taken the much-needed sheen off the series which incidentally has also coincided with the FIFA World Cup making it even more inconsequential from a viewer’s perspective.
Such has been the lack of interest, that none of the top Indian broadcasters till date have committed to air the series live in India.
The last-minute negotiations are still on to beam it live across the Indian sub-continent but there has been no concrete result till now.
This is the official start of the new international season as far as India is concerned and the players would like to hit the straps straightaway coming from a two-week break after a hectic Indian Premier League assignment.
As far as cricketing interest is concerned, this is one of those innumerable series sandwiched in the already over-burdened ICC’s Future Tours and Programmes (FTP) calender.
The stakes will, however, be high for the Indian reserves, most of whom would see this opportunity as a God-send one.
With barely eight months left for 50-over World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, a few places are still up for grabs which will keep some of the members of this team interested.
For Raina, who had another good IPL, it will be a comeback of sorts having been dropped from the ODI squad during Asia Cup. He would be itching to get into the thick of things with some substantial knocks.
The centre of attention will be burly Karnataka batsman Robin Uthappa making a comeback into the side after six years in the wake of a stupendous IPL, where he won the coveted ‘Orange Cap’ by virtue of being the highest run-getter.
A couple of good scores will certainly put Shikhar Dhawan under pressure before the selectors announce the ODI squad for England in August.
For Cheteshwar Pujara, who has been dubbed as a Test specialist, this will effectively be his last chance to stay in the mix for a slot as far as the World Cup squad is concerned.
While Uthappa and Ajinkya Rahane are slated to open th batting, Pujara is likely to come in at No 3 followed by skipper Suresh Raina at No 4.
It will be a three-way tussle between Manoj Tiwary, Kedar Jadhav and Ambati Rayudu for the next two slots in the middle-order as wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha is certain to take the No 7 slot.
While Tiwary has recently been named India A continued…
Best of Express
PHOTOS - Alia Bhatt, Priyanka Chopra, Sonam Kapoor: Actresses are such 'sports'