Rohit Sharma, K. L. Rahul, Rishabh Pant, and Jasprit Bumrah are set to be rested for the T20 series against South Africa to keep them fresh for the tour of England in July.

It is understood that veteran opener Shikhar Dhawan and all-rounder Hardik Pandya are in the running for captaincy for the T20 series against South Africa and Ireland.

The squad for the series against South Africa, which will be held in June, is likely to be chosen on May 22 - the last day of the league phase of this edition of the IPL - in Mumbai.

The PTI had reported that an out-of-form Virat Kohli will also be given a much-needed break but it is understood that for the selectors as well as the BCCI, the tour of England starting early July is paramount. “All the senior India players will get at least three-and-a-half weeks of complete rest. Rohit, Virat, K. L., Rishabh and Jasprit will all directly go to England for the ‘fifth Test’ following the white-ball series. We need all our key players to remain fresh for the England series,” a senior BCCI source privy to the development told PTI on the condition of anonymity.

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As to who will captain the team, the source said: “The selectors have a couple of choices. Shikhar Dhawan, as he has already captained India in absence of Virat, Rohit and Rahul during last year’s Sri Lanka series. But Hardik Pandya’s impressive captaincy for Gujarat Titans hasn’t gone unnoticed. So it will be a close call,” he added.

Mohsin Khan could pip Umran Malik

While Umran Malik has generated considerable excitement with his 150-kmph plus pace, there is a feeling that he is too raw and his time with the India ‘A’ team could help him develop better. While he remains in the mix with death-overs specialist Arshdeep Singh, the man who is emerging as a ‘Dark Horse’ is Lucknow Super Giants’ left-armer Mohsin Khan.

“Our pace bowling department is set and selectors might not experiment too much,” he said.

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“But yes, Mohsin has impressed almost everyone with his pace, bounce and swing in this edition. He does have a chance. Having said that, not ruling out Umran or Arshdeep either, but Mohsin might just be slightly ahead,” he added.

It is understood that most of the players who recently played in the T20 series against Sri Lanka and the West Indies are set to be retained irrespective of their current IPL form. Injuries to Suryakumar Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja need to be factored in and Deepak Chahar will also not be available.

The likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Shreyas Iyer, Deepak Hooda along with Dhawan and Hardik are set to form the core of the batting unit. Sanju Samson could also be retained and there could be one left-field selection in the squad.

In the fast bowling department, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Prasidh Krishna, Harshal Patel, and Avesh Khan are all certainties, and among spinners, R. Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.