New Delhi: Team India is slated to play a three-match one-day international series against Sri Lanka, right after the conclusion of the Test series and the selectors are all set to announce the final 15-member squad today.
Ahead of the announcement here is the possibility for the Team India squad that would take on the Islanders for the ODI series...
Openers' Slot –
Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Ajinkya Rahane are the four candidates for the Openers' slot.
Judging by each, the left-hander seems to be a perfect candidate and sure possibility as an opener. He had been phenomenal during India's Champions Trophy campaign at London where he had amassed 338 runs in five matches which included a phenomenal 128-ball 125 against the Lankans. He did carry on his form scoring a 63 in the second ODI in Windies, but suffered successive failure in the next three. However, going by his present Test form and past records in ODI matches, Dhawan seems to be a perfect opening batsman for the Indians.
If its a left-hander, a right-handed counterpart is assumed to be the best combination. And if it is Dhawan then Rohit Sharma seems perfect. But is it so? His comeback to cricketing action seemed topsy-turvy with very few good knocks in the tenth season of Indian Premier League. However, he did prove his worth with a ravishing 91 against Pakistan in India's opener in Champions Trophy. He had even struck a century against Bangladesh in the semi-final round of the tournament that proved instrumental in India's road to final. However, he wasn't part of the West Indies tour. Finding a place next to Dhawan might seem bleak, but he has stats to back himself up. It has been the most formidable opening pair for India since the reign of Sehwag-Gambhir.
Ajinkya Rahane. For the opener's slot? Quite doubtful. But it was this Maharashtrian cricketer who had held onto the crease when Dhawan failed to deliver in each of the three ODIs against West Indies. He cracked up a century in the second and then went for two back-to-back 50-plus score in the third and fourth match. He had thanked Virat Kohli for the confidence he had shown within him.
KL Rahul is the fourth candidate. He had made his ODI debut last year against Zimbabwe and his highest remains a dot century. He has so far played just six matches with an average of 55.00. Coming back to cricketing action, the Karnataka-lad has already equalled world record for most consecutive 50-plus scores in Test cricket. But ODI? Seems way too bleak for the 25-year-old. Probably Virat can wait and experiment if they are through with a win in the first match.
POSSIBILITY – Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma.
No. 3 –
Virat Kohli is the only option. However, reports came about that he would want to rest for the ODI series. The skipper was asked about the same after the toss on Day 1 of the third Test between India and Sri Lanka and he shrugged off the reports. My participation? Who said I am not playing?" Kohli replied. "I don't know where this came from… if you don't want me to play, then tell me… I have no problems in playing."
Middle order –
MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh are the likely pair for India. But probably its time for the selectors to keep in mind the 2019 World Cup. These two veterans of the game may or may not be there then. Ergo its important for the selectors to bring forth the young lot and give them the exposure and make them all geared up for the World Cup. Thus, Manish Pandey seems to be a possible and a rightful candidate. Was indeed at his best during the tri-series with scores of 55. 41 n.o, 86 n.o., 93 n.o, 33 n.o.
Also, Rahane and Rahul are two such members of the squad that can play dual role – opener and middle-order. Along with them, there is also a possibility for Kedar Jadhav and Hardik Pandya. They were astounding during the Champions Trophy lending out support to Dhoni at the crease. Not to forget both can bowl too. Kedar was brought in only a handful of surprising occasion during that tournament and he had scalped important wickets. Pandya, on the other hand, is reckoned to bring about a balance in the team.
POSSIBILITY – Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya
For the spin section, Ashwin-Jadeja combo hasn't proved worthwhile in ODI matches and one had surely noticed that during the Windies tour and in the Champions Trophy. Selectors would therefore want to go with Kuldeep Yadav who was pretty impressive during the Windies tour with Axar Patel being the other option. The spin-allrounder was the third highest wicket-taker in the tri-nation series.
Among the seamers, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav are the two bright candidates. The tussle is between Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami. The unorthodox action failed to surprise the selectors during the Champions Trophy while Shami has had wonderful past records in this format of the game.
POSSIBILITY – Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami
Team India will play the first of the three ODIs at Dambulla, on August 20.