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Firm message to Dhoni and Co. over Rahane pick for Zimbabwe tour

Chief selector Sandeep Patil and his four fellow selectors have sent a firm message to ODI skipper MS Dhoni and Test captain Virat Kohli for controversial decisions taken during the Bangladesh tour.

cricket Updated: Jun 30, 2015 21:07 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
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Chief selector Sandeep Patil and his four fellow selectors have sent a firm message to ODI skipper MS Dhoni and Test captain Virat Kohli for controversial decisions taken during the Bangladesh tour.

Dhoni dropped Ajinkya Rahane after the first ODI, claiming that a player who has grown in leaps and bounds, not just as a middle-order rock but also as arguably the best all-round fielder was not capable of stepping up scoring immediately.

It was a different story that Dhoni, having promoted himself to No. 4, a slot Rahane could easily have taken, struggled to score at a run-a-ball.

No sense

Kohli's omission of Cheteshwar Pujara for the one-off Test too didn't make sense. The man anointed as the ideal successor to Rahul Dravid at No. 3, seemed to have justified those expectations with his brilliant century in South Africa in 2013-end.

However, a slide across the Test series in New Zealand, England and Australia suggested more of a crisis in confidence than technique. Still, having used a short stint with English county Yorkshire, Pujara was eager to cash in against Bangladesh, but the omission only dented his confidence further.

The selectors and Dhoni have played cat-and-mouse in the past, mostly over Suresh Raina. Patil acknowledged that with tour selectors not having a role in deciding the eleven, the selectors can affix their stamp only on the squad.

But he not just underlined Rahane's batting credentials, he also emphasised that he had potential to be a future leader. Pujara was named skipper of the India 'A' squad, but the Rahane issue suggested Dhoni and Patil were not on the same page.

"If we've decided to give him (Rahane) the responsibility, we want him to do well. But we want to judge him also (as skipper) at the same time," said Patil. "We're very happy the way his (Rahane's) career is shaping up. He is one of the most consistent batsmen we have. We want to see the other angle also."

Team director Ravi Shastri won't tour Zimbabwe due to personal commitments.

The national cricket selectors have also taken note of the complaint from leading players that non-stop playing has run them to the ground.

As a result, the entire bunch - Dhoni, Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Raina, R Ashwin and Umesh Yadav - have been rested for the Zimbabwe series.

India are due to play three ODIs and two T20 internationals from July 7-20. Sending a depleted squad follows a request from the rested players that they badly needed a break after playing continuously for around seven months.

Resting the established players means an opportunity for opener Murali Vijay, whose consistency in Tests and IPL have not meant a return to the ODI squad. Robin Uthappa too finds a place as expected with Harbhajan Singh getting a chance with an eye on next year's World T20 which India are due to host.

The India 'A' team for the four-day games against Australia 'A' in Chennai will be the first assignment for Rahul Dravid as junior coach. Most of the players had done well in the last Ranji season.




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