Let’s not forget about India’s current state of affairs in Test Cricket. It is a different ballgame,and therefore, I find it inexplicable that the BCCI will make a decision on Dhoni (and a few other players) on basis of their performance in the ODI series. If they don’t understand the basics of cricket, we could very well be sending an IPL-formed team to Australia later this year. Dhoni must go as Test Captain even if India win the ODI series 5-0. Their ODI and limited overs performances are completely mutually exclusive to their Test abilities, as demonstrated by them (Champions Trophy 2013, T20 World Cup 2014) since 2011. It is Dhoni’s comfort zone, where he first took a young Indian team to victory back in 2007 before Test captaincy was thrust upon him after the exit of Anil Kumble.
Nevertheless, there is a series to play abroad. A bilateral ODI series in England, with the first match at Bristol on Monday.
The squad contains some new names, much-needed too, the most exciting of which is young Sanju Samson—India’s future wicketkeeper-batsman. Rohit Sharma will be back opening the innings with Shikhar Dhawan, with Kohli at 3 and Raina, Dhoni and hopefully Samson to follow. Rahane could find a place too, with Jadeja and Ashwin virtually useless in these conditions. They lost the last ODI series here 0-3, failing to win a single match in 2011. Dhoni will still be deflated with the changes going on around him: Shastri is once again Team Director, and Sanjay Bangar is an assistant coach. Fletcher’s role seems to have been downscaled, and it will be hard for the youngsters to find a solitary voice to follow after joining the team in such a transitional phase. Umesh Yadav will be back, while Bhuvi is sure to be given a few matches off after a sapping test series. Mohit Sharma and Karn Sharma will definitely get a game or two, while Binny is fresh from a record-breaking ODI bowling effort in Bangladesh. Rayadu will fancy his chances for that vacant middle-order spot too, as will Dhawal Kulkarni who follow Shami and Bhuvi/Yadav as the third bowler.
ENGLAND Probable starting XI: Cook, Hales, Root, Ballance/Bell, Morgan, Buttler, Stokes, Woakes/Jordan, Finn, Anderson, Tredwell
England have the edge as far as all-rounders are concerned: the likes of Stokes, Ali, Woakes will be important, with Morgan as their most important ODI batsman. There is a gaping hole without KP, but Ballance and Buttler will be looking to fill that leak. India are going to be forced to try out the youngsters, something MS Dhoni isn’t too keen to do, but this definitely will be trial by fire for a few of them, and much more preferable than starting their careers on the flat pitches at home.