The national selection committee under Sandeep Patil are set to leave it to limited overs captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni to decide on whether he will make himself available or not for the short tour of Zimbabwe from June 11-20.
It has been learnt that the five selectors have spoken to most of the senior India regulars intimating them that they are keen to send a new look junior team to the African nation in order to test the bench strength.
According to a reliable BCCI source, the selection committee is likely to only make an exception for Dhoni keeping in mind that he will not have any international assignment till March next year during which India will play 17 Test matches.
“Yes, it is true that selectors have spoken to some of the senior Indian players intimating them that they would be looking at juniors during this tour. While Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan were set to be rested, there were some seniors, who had made themselves available for the tour. But selectors told them that only exception may be made for Dhoni, who no longer plays Test cricket,” a top BCCI source said.
“The selection committee has left it completely on Dhoni to decide whether he wants to go or not. He is free to opt out as he has also played a lot of cricket but if he does not go, he will not have a single limited overs assignment till March next year. In case Dhoni is reluctant, then Ajinkya Rahane is the likely choice to lead the side,” the source added.
“Also Zimbabwe is a nine-day trip with all matches being held at the same venue (Harare Sports Club ground). It will not be hectic in terms of traveling also,” the source further added.
The other objective will be to check out the youngsters, who have emerged after a good IPL season as to how they absorb the pressure of playing for the senior national team although Zimbabwe is not exactly the toughest side in international cricket.
Murali Vijay and K.L. Rahul are two players who have a fair chance of making it to the Zimbabwe tour. In fact Vijay last played limited overs cricket in Zimbabwe last year under Rahane’s leadership. Rahul is also set to get a look in after an impressive IPL.
Among the pacers, Jasprit Bumrah, who is a regular in T20 Internationals may like to play the three ODIs adding to his kitty of a solitary 50-over match at the international level.
Mohammed Shami, Sandeep Sharma, Mohit Sharma are some of the contenders with Ashish Nehra already being ruled out for at least four months due to a career-threatening hamstring tendon injury.
Leg-spinner Murugan Ashwin, all-rounder Krunal Pandya are some of the names that will be discussed. Some of the tested players like Amit Mishra, Piyush Chawla may also get a look—in but if the selectors opt for youth policy, they may not be considered. Ditto for KKR veterans Gautam Gambhir and Yusuf Pathan, who have done well but are in their mid-30’s.
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