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Selectors likely to give Virat Kohli option to rest for T20I series

The selectors also had plans to rest three frontline spinners - R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Jayant Yadav for the whole limited-overs leg against England.

Virat Kohli, Kohli, Virat Kohli India, India cricket team captain, MS Dhoni, Dhoni, India vs England, Ind vs Eng, India vs England ODI, Cricket news, Cricket Virat Kohli will be named as the limited overs captain after MS Dhoni stepped down from the post on Wednesday.

At the start of the selection committee meeting in Mumbai on Friday, after Virat Kohli’s appointment as India’s limited-overs captain is formalised, chief selector MSK Prasad is likely to have a chat with the new skipper about whether he wants rest for the three T20 internationals against England.

Squads for three ODIs and three T20s will be picked and according to a source, Kohli, who has been playing almost non-stop cricket over the past four months, will be given an option to cool his heels in the shortest format that follows the 50-over contests. This is ostensibly with an eye on the long home Test season as India still have five more Tests to play – one against Bangladesh and four versus Australia – in the next two months. The final decision, however, lies with Kohli who is likely to join the meeting via video conference.

The selectors also had plans to rest three frontline spinners – R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Jayant Yadav for the whole limited-overs leg against England. But now they want to take a call on this only after consulting with MS Dhoni’s successor. “This will be Kohli’s first series as full-time limited-overs captain and he might ask for a full-strength squad, at least for the ODIs. The selection committee likes to know his plans and will decide accordingly,” a source close to the selection committee said.

There have been some injury concerns though. Ajinkya Rahane had fractured his finger during a knocking session on the eve of the Mumbai Test against England. He subsequently missed the final two matches of the series. News is that the Mumbai batsman has made steady recovery but the selectors will get an update on his fitness ahead of tomorrow’s meeting. If Rahane is passed fit, he might be picked for one of the warm-up one-dayers that precede the international fixtures.

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Mohammed Shami, too, had missed the final two Tests against England with a dodgy knee. The fast bowler did a rehab at the NCA and reportedly got the clearance. But Shami’s fitness record warrants managing his workload properly and the selection committee is unlikely to take any risks with the team’s main strike bowler.

Jayant Yadav had jarred his hamstring, which ruled him out of the Chennai Test. The Haryana allrounder, who made a fine impression with 221 runs and nine wickets in the three Tests he played, also didn’t feature in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal.

Question mark remains over his fitness. Even Axar Patel had injured his thumb while fielding as a substitute in the fifth Test against England. The injury forced the left-arm spinner to miss the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal and semifinal for Gujarat. If both Yadav and Patel are ruled out for the limited-overs matches against England, the selectors might be compelled to pick one between Ashwin and Jadeja, or both, for the sake of right balance. By not playing domestic cricket this term, Harbhajan Singh has all but ruled himself out of contention.

All-rounder question

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An update is awaited on Hardik Pandya as well. The Baroda cricketer had been released from the Test squad following a right shoulder injury during a training session in Mohali. With not many genuine allrounders around in domestic cricket, uncertainty over Yadav and Pandya appears a concern for the selection committee.

Rohit Sharma is recuperating from a right upper quadriceps tendon surgery and is unlikely to play any cricket at least for the next two months. It might open the door for the Chennai Test triple centurion Karun Nair. The 25-year-old Karnataka batsman has played two ODIs, against Zimbabwe in June 2016, opening the innings in both matches.

Since KL Rahul has done enough to be a limited-overs regular, Nair’s fight is with Shikhar Dhawan for the opening slot. The Delhi left-hander had injured his thumb during the second Test against New Zealand at Eden Gardens in September last year. He wasn’t considered for the Tests against England despite returning to domestic cricket. But given his experience and a 90.26 strike-rate as an ODI opener, he might be tried. Rahul’s ability to bat in the middle-order in the shorter formats might allow India to opt for Dhawan and Nair at the top. If Dhawan comes in, he will be selected for the warm-up matches as that will provide him game time.

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Meanwhile, MS Dhoni is likely to play for India ‘A’ in both warm-up games ahead of the limited-overs series that begins with the ODI in Pune on January 15.

First published on: 06-01-2017 at 04:53:56 am
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