INDIA’S TOUR OF ZIMBABWE

India A will play Australia A in two four-day matches in Chennai. This coincides with India’s short limited-overs tour of Zimbabwe comprising 3 ODIs and 2 T20 games. 

As a result, a certain out-of-favour group of players are back in the spotlight, while a core chunk of the Indian ODI team: Dhoni, Raina, Kohli, Rohit, Yadav, Ashwin and Dhawan have asked for rest after back-to-back World Cup, IPL and Bangladesh tours. Ravindra Jadeja, meanwhile, has been dropped from the scheme of things. He doesn’t find a place in the Zimbabwe squad or the India A team; a swift fall from grace for India’s hero all-rounder not too long back. 

 
CHANGES:
Ajinkya Rahane, who can’t find a place in the first-choice Indian ODI team, has been asked to lead the second-string Indian team touring Zimbabwe. 
While Rahane will be captain and open the batting, Murali Vijay will replace his test partner Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order. Vijay wasn’t part of the World Cup squad. T20 stars like Ambati Rayadu, Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey are likely to form the middle order—with either Uthappa or Rayadu as the wicketkeeper. Uthappa is known to be an opener, but will his spot will depend on where Rahane wants to bat. Manoj Tiwary will also find a place after being unlucky due to illnesses and injuries over the years. Kedar Jadhav, due to his keeping abilities, also stands a chance in the middle order. 
 
It is India’s tired bowling line-up that has been shuffled in a more interesting manner. Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami aren’t playing, which paves the way for new star Sandeep Sharma and Mohit Sharma to lead the line-up with Bhuvaneshwar Kumar. Dhawal Kulkarni and Stuart Binny remain the medium pacers. And surprisingly, Harbhajan Singh has been included in the squad after last playing an ODI in 2011, almost four years ago. His impressive T20 season has given him back a test spot as well as an opportunity to prove himself in ODIs again. He will be joined by youngsters Axar Patel, who had a disappointing tour of Bangladesh, and Karn Sharma, who still finds favour over the older and more experienced Amit Mishra (who finds a place in the India A squad instead). 
 
ODI squad: Rahane ©, Rayadu, Vijay, Tiwary, Uthappa, Jadhav, Pandey, Axar, Harbhajan, Karn Sharma, Kulkarni, Binny, Bhuvi, Mohit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma.
 
The India A squad will be lead by test discard Cheteshwar Pujara, who has a point to prove. KL Rahul, Baba Aparajith and Abhinav Mukund are other test specialists in the team. Youngsters like Karun Nair, Shreyas Iyer, Shardul Thakur, Shreyas Gopal and Naman Ojha will join veterans like Mishra, Abhimanyu Mithun, Umesh Yadav and Pragyan Ojha. 
 
India can’t play like they are assured winners any more in any format of the game. Zimbabwe was impressive in the World Cup, and despite the retirement of their captain Brendon Taylor, they still remain strong in their own conditions, especially against second-string sides. Rahane will look at this as an opportunity though—a test of his temperament, leadership skills and character, after a disappointing summer. 
 

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