Skipper MS Dhoni has been rested and Virat Kohli named to lead India when Sri Lanka come calling for the five-match ODI series, starting November 2. The BCCI selection committee on Tuesday picked a 15-member squad for the first three one-dayers.
“Dhoni has niggles and requires rest,” BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel said. With India’s tour of Australia starting December 4, the selection committee decided not to take any chances with Dhoni’s fitness.
This is the second time that Kohli will be at the helm. He had captained India in the Asia Cup in Bangladesh earlier this year when the team crashed out at the group stage itself. Virat’s leadership will be tested against Sri Lanka, who have lost only one ODI series this year — against South Africa at home.
Dhoni’s absence also opened the door for Wriddhiman Saha, who was preferred ahead of Sanju Samson. The latter went to England as a back-up keeper in the one-dayers. “He (Samson) was chosen because Saha was unavailable after sustaining a finger injury. But Saha is Dhoni’s natural replacement,” a source close to the selection committee said.
In the six ODIs the Bengal keeper has played so far, he has scored only 25 runs at 8.33. But he has been in good batting form this season, grabbing attention with a rollicking hundred in the IPL final.
Meanwhile, Ravichandran Ashwin, rested for the limited-overs series against the West Indies, has been brought back at the expense of left-arm chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav. Another left-arm spinner Axar Patel’s selection, however, was a formality following his top-class performance against the West Indies in Dharamsala. In a high-scoring game, the 20-year-old bowled 10 overs and took two wickets for 26 runs.
Seam bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has been playing almost non-stop cricket, also got a much-needed break. Varun Aaron has been named as his replacement. Rohit Sharma, India’s first-choice opener till he got injured in England, was not considered for the ODIs. Uncertain about his match fitness, the selectors have included him in the India ‘A’ squad for the tour game, where Manoj Tiwary will lead the side.
Sri Lanka replaced the West Indies’ in a hastily arranged series after the latter pulled out mid-tour over a payment dispute with their cricket board. Cuttack will host the first ODI against Sri Lanka.
ODIs: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra, Murali Vijay, Varun Aaron, Axar Patel
Tour game: Manoj Tiwary (c), Unmukt Chand, Manan Vohra, Karun Nair, Rohit Sharma, Kedar Jadhav, Sanju Samson, Parvez Rasool, Karn Sharma, Stuart Binny, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaspreet Bumrah, Manish Pandey, Kuldeep Yadav