The selection committee met in scenic Kodaikanal on Sunday to pick the India squad for the forthcoming Zimbabwe tour. Perhaps the fact of their meeting at an idyllic holiday spot convinced the selectors that India’s overworked players, too, could finally do with some rest. So what we got, after a really long time, is a more or less new look team for the tour that will see a tri-series with Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe and two T20 matches against the hosts.
Resting M.S. Dhoni, Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Ashish Nehra from the squad currently in the Caribbean, and Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag (both of who have been recovering from injury) from the regular ODI squad, they have handed over the reins of the team to Suresh Raina.
The one name missing is Robin Uthappa, who was in prolific touch during the IPL. But, according to sources, Paul Close, the head physiotherapist at the National Cricket Academy, Bangalore, has submitted a report that Uthappa needs surgery on his shoulder.
Meanwhile, Raina will have relatively new faces in Vinay Kumar, Pankaj Singh, Umesh Yadav and R Ashwin - they are yet to make their India debuts but have been part of the team on one occasion or the other- and Naman Ojha - the debutant - at his disposal.
“I am really excited at the call-up and would give my best if given an opportunity,” said Ojha. A few days ago, the Hindustan Times had highlighted how hectic the schedule had become for the players, with only 48 hours between the last game in Harare and India's first of the Asia Cup in Dambulla, Sri Lanka. N Srinivasan, the BCCI secretary and convenor of the selection committee, had then told HT that “practicality of these issues would be seen and handled accordingly.
The decision to rest so many players in one tournament is rare, but it's a nonetheless welcome step. Not only will it allow some much-needed rest for India's main players, it would also help the upcoming players to get the hang of things at the international level.
“It's actually a very good decision. It will give some recovery time for the senior players who rarely get time off,” said said India player Amit Mishra.
“Our seniors have played too much of cricket. After the IPL and the WT20, they deserve some rest ahead of series in Sri Lanka,”said former India cricket manager Lalchand Rajput.