New Delhi: Even as legal wrangle continues to take centre stage on a hectic day of Indian cricket, the MSK Prasad-led selection committee on Friday announced a 15-member team for the first three matches of the One Day International series against visiting New Zealand.
As expected Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been retained as the captain of the squad with an otherwise youthful looking bowling attack. But the biggest news was the return of limited overs specialist Suresh Raina.
Raina, who had a poor run with the bat in the Asia Cup and ICC World Twenty20, has been out the national team for some time. Before the ICC-sanctioned tournaments, he was left out of the Indian ODI squad for Australia series. Then, was not considered for the Zimbabwe series, and also the Twenty20 International series against West Indies in the United States.
The Indian team, which have lost two of last three ODI series — against South Africa and Australia — will look to improve the records in the five-match series, which starts on October 16 at Dharamsala.
It's pertinent to mention that MS Dhoni led a young team in Zimbabwe this year, and returned victorious with 3-0 clean sweep.
But with the return of star players like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Raina, etc, many youngsters from that winning tour have been left out.
ODI TEAM #INDvNZ- MS Dhoni(Capt), Rohit, Ajinkya, Virat, Manish, Raina, Hardik, Axar, Jayant, Mishra, Bumrah, Dhawal, Umesh, Mandeep, Kedar
— BCCI (@BCCI) October 6, 2016
The injuries to Shikhar Dhawan and Lokesh Rahul have allowed selectors to give talented Manish Pandey another crack at international cricket. Another batsman who has got called up is Mandeep Singh.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have been rested, thus giving chance to Jayant Yadav. He joins Amit Mishra, Axar Patel and Kedar Yadav in the spin department.
Umesh Yadav will lead the pace attack in absence of Mohammed Shami, who has been rested. Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Patel and Dhawal Kulkarni making up the numbers.
Besides the 15, the one player whose case was discussed at length was that of Gautam Gambhir. The seasoned opener wad drafted into the Test squad after injuries to Rahul and Dhawn.
According to reports, he was left as the selectors feel that India "needed continuity" and "groom" Mandeep as an opener. He had a brilliant tour Down Under with the India A team.
India, under Virat Kohli's leadership, have already already taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match Test series against the Kiwis, with Indore hosting the final match.
But the glow of the series win, and also of that becoming the number one ranked Test team, somehow lost in the current legal wrangle involving the BCCI and the Supreme Court constituted Lodha Committee.
And today, after the hearing on BCCI's plea, the apex court has given the Indian cricket board one day's time to do what's been recommended by the committee or face music.
But for MSK Pasad-led selection panel, it was business as usual as it got into the act of selecting the Indian team for the first time.
India will play five ODIs, starting October 16, in Dharamsala. Remaining matches will be played in Delhi (October 20), Mohali (October 23), Ranchi (October 26), and Visakhapatnam (October 29).
Here's the squad for the first three-matches:
MS Dhoni (capt. & wk), Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Manish Pandey, Suresh Raina, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Jayant Yadav, Amit Mishra, Jasprit Bumrah, Dhawal Kulkarni, Umesh Yadav, Mandeep Singh, Kedar Jadhav