The squad for the upcoming three-match ODI series between India and England will be announced tomorrow (Thursday), and a lot of big names could be missing. Ravichandran Ashwin is expected to be rested, while the likes of Rohit Sharma and Mohammad Shami are set to miss out due to injuries.
After a convincing win in the Test series against England, India will once again be the favorites, although only marginally, to win the upcoming ODI and T20 series against the visitors. The first ODI will be hosted at Pune on January 15, followed by matches in Cuttack (January 19) and Kolkata (January 22). A lot of players are struggling with fitness concerns for India at the moment, and we could see a few new faces in the upcoming series.
Rohit Sharma, who is recovering from an injured thigh he had picked up during the fifth ODI against New Zealand back in October, is set to remain on the sidelines. This means KL Rahul will partner Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order. The duo had faced fitness concerns of their own in recent past but are now fit to feature in the team once again.
Mandeep Singh, who was part of the ODI squad against New Zealand, is likely to retain his place as a backup opener ahead of the young Rishabh Pant. Mandeep has scored two half-centuries and a century in his last six innings in the Ranji Trophy, along with a couple of impressive performances for the India A side which had toured Australia in August.
Virat Kohli will be the first name on the team sheet, and it will be the start of a new innings as a leader for the star batsman. He will, of course, still have the support of MS Dhoni on the field, and reports suggest that the wicketkeeper-batsman could be used higher up the batting order by Kohli. Will the release of the pressure that comes with captaincy, finally, bring out the old, uninhibited, and aggressive batsman in Dhoni? We will have to wait and see.
Manish Pandey will continue to get his chances in the middle-order, but he will hope to show a lot more consistency. A lot of players will be returning to the side once they recover from injuries, and it might be a while before he gets a shot to cement his place in the starting eleven if he messes up this one. In the absence of Ajinkya Rahane, who is struggling with a fracture on his index finger, Karun
Probable pick: Ravindra Jadeja
He would have deserved some rest after his effort in the Test series, but the lack of quality all-rounders, and injuries to Hardik Pandya (hairline fracture in his right shoulder), and Jayant Yadav (hamstring injury) mean Jadeja is likely to be retained for the ODI series as well.
The selectors do have the option of drafting in Shahbaz Nadeem, who like Jadeja is a left-arm spinner and handy with the bat. The 27-year-old is the highest wicket-taker in Ranji this season with 56 scalps in 10 matches for Jharkhand. He could be the perfect replacement for Jadeja in this series if the selectors decide to give him an opportunity.
We are likely to see the return of Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the starting eleven of the ODI team in this series. The 26-year-old’s last ODI appearance was against Australia in January last year, but in the absence of Mohammad Shami, Bhuvi could be asked to spearhead the attack alongside the impressive Jasprit Bumrah. Umesh Yadav will also fight for a place in the starting eleven, and it will be interesting to see how many
ICC’s 2016 Cricketer of the Year Ravichandran Ashwin will get a well-deserved rest with the series against Australia looming large on the horizon, and that will open up opportunities for other spinners to grab a place in the side. Axar Patel, who has a finger injury, though, will be missing from the team.
Veteran spinner Amit Mishra is likely to be the lead spinner with Parveez Rasool fighting for a place alongside him. The selectors could also opt for Yuzvendra Chahal, but Kohli is unlikely to fit in three spinners who take the ball away from the right-handers. Rasool has taken 38 wickets in 9 matches for Jammu & Kashmir this season, and this could be his big break since making his solitary appearance against Bangladesh back in 2014.