Dhoni’s second-string India takes on Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe series can be a banana skin for Dhoni. For, a win will never be feted as it is something that everyone expects but a loss will not be pardoned.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be touring Zimbabwe after 11 years.   -  Mukesh Trivedi

He has mostly led a formidable bunch of limited-overs specialists but it will be a different challenge for Mahendra Singh Dhoni when he captains a new-look Indian cricket team against Zimbabwe in the first of a short ODI series starting here tomorrow.

In 2013 and 2015, the second-string Indian teams whitewashed the host 5-0 and 3-0, respectively.

This time, the squad of 15 comprises as many as five uncapped players (including K. L. Rahul, who is yet to make his limited-overs debut) but it has gained special significance because of Dhoni, who will be playing in the African nation after 11 years. Barely six months into his international career, Dhoni played under Sourav Ganguly in 2005.

But the situation is different. With Virat Kohli batting with exceptional form in the past six months, there are calls to make him the captain in all the formats. And Dhoni’s captaincy is increasingly under threat.

This series can be a banana skin for Dhoni. For, a win will never be feted as it is something that everyone expects but a loss will not be pardoned.



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With India having a Test-heavy home schedule this year, Dhoni's won't be playing a lot in the next few months. India will be embarking on a Test tour of the Caribbean after this assignment.

The gulf between Dhoni and the rest of the squad is vast. Dhoni has played a 275 ODIs and the rest of them cumulatively have 83 matches to their credit.

Impressive performances in the Indian Premier League (IPL) earned Rahul his maiden ODI call while promising batsman Karun Nair and Haryana spinners Jayant Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal will be aiming for a good start to their international careers.

Apart from the experience of Dhoni and Rayudu, the batting line-up boasts of Rahul, Nair, Mandeep Singh, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav and Faiz Fazal while the bowling unit will be led by Jasprit Bumrah and Dhawal Kulkarni.

The left-arm duo of Barinder Sran and Jaydev Unadkat and all-rounder Rishi Dhawan will be good back-up options for Dhoni. The spin department will be handled by Patel, Yadav and Chahal.

Meanwhile, the host will have a new captain in the form of leg-spinner Graeme Cremer, who was appointed on an interim basis. Cremer took over from Hamilton Masakadza, who had an awful time with his side during the ICC World T20 2016 in India earlier this year.

Going into the series, Zimbabwe received a jolt after pacer Tinashe Panyangara was ruled out with a back injury but the host can bank on the experience of Masakadza, Craig Ervine, Sean Williams, Elton Chigumbura and Vusimuzi Sibanda.

Teams:-

India: M. S. Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), Lokesh Rahul, Faiz Fazal, Manish Pandey, Karun Nair, Ambati Rayudu, Mandeep Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Rishi Dhawan, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jayant Yadav, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jasprit Bumrah, Barinder Sran and Jaydev Unadkat.

Zimbabwe: Graeme Cremer (captain), Richmond Mutumbami, Taurai Muzarabani, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Peter Joseph Moor, Elton Chigumbura, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Tawanda Mupariwa, Sean Williams, Sikandar Raza Butt, Neville Madziva, Donald Tiripano, Timycen Maruma, Wellington Maskadza, Tendai Chisoro, Hamilton Masakadza, Tendai Chatara and Craig Ervine.

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