Ajinkya Rahane, following a shock exclusion from the Indian ODI side in Bangladesh, is back! And this time as the captain of the team! The BCCI has announced the Indian team that is set to tour Zimbabwe for 3 ODIs and 2 T20s in July. Rahane, however, would be leading a second string side, as most of his heavyweight teammates have chosen to opt out of this tour. The selectors have explicitly given the message that they are willing to ‘see the other aspects of Ajinkya Rahane’.
Top players rested
Alongside MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan, the other regular members of the side who have been rested are Rohit Sharma, R Ashwin, Suresh Raina and Umesh Yadav. Ravindra Jadeja, however, has been left out of the ‘rested’ list. He is absent from the list of selected players too, which indicates that the Indian all-rounder has been dropped from the side after a long stretch of poor form.
New role for Ajinkya Rahane, another chance for the underdogs
The tour of Zimbabwe promises to give another chance to a number of out-of-favour cricketers. They are the ones who, despite having solid credentials in domestic cricket, get overshadowed at the national level by their more gifted countrymen.
Murali Vijay has found his place in the ODI side after quite a long time. He is expected to partner Ajinkya Rahane at the top of the order. Robin Uthappa, Kedar Jadhav and Ambati Rayudu have been included as wicket keeper -batsmen. Manish Pandey, despite having an ordinary IPL 2015 season, has been handed an opportunity to impress the selectors. Manoj Tiwary has battled his way past numerous rejections and injuries yet again, and the Bengal batsman is set to be one of the veterans in the side this time. Axar Patel and Stuart Binny now have the license to be more confident of spots in the playing XI, after spending most of the Bangladesh tour on the bench.
Among the bowlers, Harbhajan Singh is set to make a comeback to ODI cricket after nearly 4 years. Bhajji’s last ODI was against West Indies in June 2011. He will be assisted by 27-year old leggie Karn Sharma who has made the cut ahead of the more experienced Amit Mishra. Dhawal Kulkarni, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma and Sandeep Sharma make up the pace brigade of the side. Kulkarni was the most impressive of the Indian pacers in Bangladesh, and Sandeep Sharma has been phenomenal in the last two IPL seasons. It would be interesting to see who among the four are included in the playing XI during this tour.
Indian squad touring Zimbabwe
Ajinkya Rahane (c), Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Robin Uthappa, Murali Vijay, Manoj Tiwary, Kedar Jadhav, Harbhajan Singh, Axar Patel, Karn Sharma, Dhawal Kulkarni, Sandeep Sharma, Stuart Binny, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma