India’s rising batting star Ajinkya Rahane will lead the 15-member team for the upcoming Zimbabwe tour, with senior players including MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli being rested, BCCI officials said on Monday.
Taking note of the fatigue factor, the selectors have also rested Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, R Ashwin and Umesh Yadav.
The Indian team just concluded a disappointing tour of Bangladesh, losing the ODI series 1-2, completing seven months of continuous cricket.
The board decided to send a second string team, giving the younger players a chance in the tour comprising three ODIs and two T20s. “I feel the side is very good, it is young and holds the future for Team India,” BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur said.
“We are confident of Ajinkya’s ability (to lead) and want him to do well,” chief selector Sandeep Patil told reporters in New Delhi.
“We’re very happy the way his career is shaping up. He is one of the most consistent batsmen we have,” Patil said of the 27-year-old who has played 55 ODIs since his 50-overs debut in 2011.
“That’s why we want to see his other aspects. We have given him this opportunity and we’ll definitely back him,” said Patil, insisting the team was chosen with an eye on next year’s Twenty20 World Cup in India.
From a wary young boy to an attacking batsman who took on the Australia pace attack in the Test series Down Under, Rahane’s transition into one of India’s best batsmen is a striking success story.
Of all India’s young batsmen, Rahane has been the most consistent in the tough away tours since December 2013. He has scored hundreds in New Zealand, England and Australia. He narrowly missed getting one in South Africa (he was out for 96).
Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who played the last of his 229 one-dayers in June 2011, returns to the 15-member side for the world number two ODI team’s series against a Zimbabwe team ranked nine places lower.
The team does not include any specialist glovesman but contains three batsmen — Robin Uthappa, Kedar Jadhav and Ambati Rayudu — who can keep wickets.
Manish Pandey and Sandeep Sharma are the uncapped players in the ODI side.
Harare Sports Club hosts the ODIs on July 10, 12 and 14, to be followed by Twenty20 Internationals on July 17 and 19 at the same venue.
Team director Ravi Shastri will not tour Zimbabwe either, Indian cricket board secretary Anurag Thakur said.
The board would meet next month to discuss who would succeed Duncan Fletcher as the new head coach, he added.
The Indian ODI squad for the Zimbabwe tour: Ajinkya Rahane(captain), Murali Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, Manoj Tiwary, Kedar Jadhav, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Harbhajan Singh, Axar Patel, Karn Sharma, Dhawal Kulkarni, Stuart Binny, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma.
India A squad: KL Rahul, Abhinav Mukund, Cheteshwar Pujara (capt), Karun Nair, Shreyas Iyer, Naman Ojha, Vijay Shankar, Amit Mishra, Pragyan Ojha, Shardul Thakur, Varun Aaron, Abhimanyu Mithun, Umesh Yadav, Shreyas Gopal, B Aparjit.