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Batsman Suresh Raina today staged a comeback for the first three ODI against New Zealand while three senior players including off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin were rested keeping a gruelling season in mind.
Chairman of selectors MSK Prasad however made it clear that Raina’s inclusion is a short term moved primarily keeping in mind his ability to bowl tight off-breaks in sub-continental conditions.
While Raina is the most prominent name to make a comeback, it will be young Mandeep Singh, who would be opening alongside Rohit Sharma in the first three ODIs.
Off-spinner Jayant Yadav and left-arm spinner Axar Patel replaced Ashwin and Jadeja while Dhawal Kulkarni came in place of Shami.
“We gave Raina a break during the Zimbabwe tour. But with Jadeja, Ashwin and Shami rested, we needed some experience. Although it’s a short term solution. While selecting Raina, apart from his batting experience, we also considered his bowling. He has scored runs in Duleep Trophy,” chairman of selectors MSK Prasad told mediapersons today.
Asked about the decision to rest the three bowlers, Prasad reasoned:”We spoke to the team management and the decision was taken. We have another 10 Test matches to play and we need to look at their workloads.”
While names of Mayank Agarwal and Gautam Gambhir were discussed, the chairman said that Mandeep is being groomed as an ODI opener.
“We definitely discussed Mayank’s name, who is in our scheme of things and gambhir’s name was also discussed. But for the sake of continuity, we have groomed Mandeep as an opener.
“He has played extremely well in Australia against pacers like Kane Richardson. I was present there and was convinced by his performance. It is unfortunate that we would be missing two readymade openers in KL (Rahul) and Shikhar (Dhawan),” said Prasad.
Hardik Pandya also made a comeback after being dropped during Zimbabwe and the tour of United States.
“Hardik bowled exceptionally well in all three formats during our A tour of Australia. He and Dhawal rose to the occasion and after we were all out for 55 in the first game, we were able to make a comeback. Also he is one of the rare seam bowling all-rounders that we have,” explained Prasad.
He also made it clear that he doesn’t look at KL Rahul being MS Dhoni’s understudy in the longer run as the Jharkhand dasher is reaching the business end of his career.
“Being a keeper myself, I believe having Rahul keep wickets is a short term solutions (may be for T20s) but in the longer run, we need specialist keepers. That’s why are investing in Sanju Samson,” said Prasad.
The first match of the series will be held at Dharamsala (October 16), followed by games in Delhi (October 20), Mohali (October 23), Ranchi (October 26), and Visakhapatnam (October 29).
India Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni(Capt), Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Manish Pandey, Suresh Raina, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Jayant Yadav, Amit Mishra, Jasprit Bumrah, Dhawal Kulkarni, Umesh Yadav, Mandeep Singh, Kedar Jadhav.