The focus will be on IPL performers like Krunal Pandya and Karun Nair for India’s short tour of Zimbabwe in June while Mumbai youngster Shreyas Iyer’s Ranji Trophy exploits may be rewarded with a place in the West Indies-bound Test team when selectors announce the squads for the two assignments in Mumbai on Monday.
The short limited-overs series in Zimbabwe may feature captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni as it could be his last assignment this season given that India are set to play 17 Test matches starting with a four-Test series in the Caribbean. In case Dhoni also asks for rest, Ajinkya Rahane is expected lead the new-look side.
The four-Test assignment for Kohli in the Caribbean is expected to feature tried and tested faces.
Kohli, Murali Vijay, Rahane, KL Rahul, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, and Ishant Sharma are some of the certainties in the squad, while the place for an extra batsman might go to Iyer, who has amassed 1321 runs at an average of 73.38 in the current Ranji Trophy season, having scored 809 runs in the previous one.
Naman Ojha is likely to take the second wicketkeeper’s slot while the fight for the third spinner’s slot is between Harbhajan Singh and Ravindra Jadeja with little to choose between them.
Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron are likely to be the other three pacers apart from Ishant, while it will be interesting if Jasprit Bumrah will be considered for the longer version with his ability to bowl yorkers.
According to BCCI sources, for Zimbabwe, the selectors will not be considering seniors like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, R Ashwin and Shikhar Dhawan -- all of whom have played non-stop for the last six months.
For Zimbabwe, KL Rahul, who has scored 348 runs in 13 matches (before the start of Sunday’s game against Delhi Daredevils) can be used as wicketkeeper-batsman while Rishabh Pant, whose talent has been the talk of the town, will be a dark horse.
With 16 wickets in the IPL, RCB leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal should also fancy his chances for the Zimbabwe tour.
In case Dhoni goes, it could be a big opportunity for Pant, who is also a wicketkeeper, to learn from a player of the skipper’s stature.