BCCI, yesterday released the names of 15 players who will be part of the Indian team that is touring Zimbabwe next month. India will be playing 3 ODIs and 2 T20 matches. The biggest surprise and the talking point of this particular team selection is Ajinkya Rahane, who has been made the captain of the Indian team.
Moreover a number of regular players have been rested for this tour and a string of veteran cricketers have made their comeback in the Indian team. Those who are making a comeback are Robin Uthhappa, Manoj Tiwary, Harbhajan Singh, Murali Vijay and Karn Sharma. Karnataka batsman Manish Pandey and pacer Sandeep Sharma get a chance for the first time to play for the Indian squad.
Another negative aspect of this team is there is no regular keeper in this squad. Batsmen wicket-keepers Uthappa or Kedhar Jhadav will have to wear the gloves for this tour. Lets take a quick look at the members of the Indian squad who will play the African nation next month:
1) Ajinkya Rahane
Newly appointed Indian captain will have a double responsibility. First he will have to provide stability to the Indian middle order through his batting and second, which is the most vital one, he has to lead the Indian team. Since India will be missing a string of regular players and Rahane’s captaincy experience is very limited, it will not be that easy for Rahane. Morever India will be haunted by the series defeat they suffered in the hands of Bangladesh. So Rahane has to keep in mind that India cannot afford another series loss in the hands of Zimbabwe.
2) Murali Vijay
Vijay will be opening the batting for India and it will be interesting to see how he performs in the limited overs format. He is a Test regular and India will be depending on him to provide a good start.
Rayadu had limited success with the Indian ODI squad and this is another opportunity for himself to showcase himself as perfect middle order batsman. He featured in the last Bangladesh series where he could not deliver as was expected from him, scoring a duck in the decisive second match. With a lot of big names missing, his role will be important in the batting order.
Manoj Tiwary has always been a bit unlucky as whenever his name was included in a tour, he succumbed to injuries. He got very few chances to play in IPL 2015 and had limited success in the domestic arena. Although considered a talented batsman, lets see if he can utilize this chance after his comeback to the Indian team after three years.
Jhadav played only one match in the Vijay Hazare trophy and has a middling Ipl season with the Delhi Daredevils. Generally he bats down the order and is his handy knocks might come useful. He might also have to wear the wicket keeping gloves if Uthappa doesn’t.
Uthappa is most likely to be the wicket keeper of the Indian team and will also be opening the Indian innings with Vijay. He spent a lot of time, strengthening himself technically which was quiet evident in his domestic and IPL performances. He would be looking to give his team a steady start and go big and would definitely want to make this chance count.
Finally dream came true for this 25 year old Karnataka batsman. Pandey was the highest scorer in the Vijay Hazare trophy and has been scoring a lot of runs for his state in the domestic circle which finally paid the price. It’s a golden opportunity in front of him and he will ready to capitalize it.
After making a comeback to the Test side, the veteran offie also makes a re-entry to the ODI squad after three years. He did perform well in the Vijay Hazare and IPL 2015, some claim that the selectors may have been a bit biased on his side.
The selectors started dropping veteran players from the side citing the reason that they were ready to give chances to the youngsters, then going by that logic Bhajji shouldn’t have been part f this squad. This might be a little injustice to players like Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan are are still hopeful of an Indian comeback.
The 20 year old left arm spinner has been retained from the Bangladesh series squad and he would be keen to fix his place in the Indian team, as his main competitor Ravindra Jadeja has been dropped from this tour. Axar has been impressive in the IPL for the Kings XI and would like to replicate a similar performance in this series.
10) Karn Sharma
Sharma joins the squad as the third spinning option and will only get a chance to play if either of the above two spinners cannot perform well. Sharma had a rather forgettable debut for India in his debut ODI match against Sri Lanka. Sharma, just like Patel has been useful in the IPl for the Sunrisers Hyderabad, will be keen to show his talent if is placed in th starting XI.
11) Stuart Binny
Binny too has been retained from the Bangladesh tour, thanks to his father! He is will be joining as an all-rounder and his medium pace might be useful in Zimbabwe rather than the traditional spin.
12) Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Kumar had a terrible Bangladesh tour as he vastly looked out of form. His initial swing, movement of the seam and lethal Yorkers were impact-less against the Bangladesh batsmen and will be aiming to make things right in this tour.
He was used only for the first ODI against Bangladesh and was dropped for the next two matches due to his poor bowling. Its all dependant on the team management if they want to use him in Zimbabwe or not.
Kulkarni became the leading fast bowler for India in the Bangladesh tour as rest of the fast bowling fleet looked hugely bleak. He bowled economically and did get important breakthroughs and was the only pacer who made some impact in Bangladesh. He will most likely have to repeat his role in the upcoming series.
15) Sandeep Sharma
The young pacer makes his debut in the Indian squad after some beautiful swing bowling he bowled for the Kings XI Punjab in the IPL. With four pacers already lined up before him, Sharma probably will have to sit this one out. But if his fortune shines and he does gets a chance somehow, he will surely like to make it a memorable one.