After a long break MS Dhoni returns to lead India in the first three T20s and ODIs for the 72-day-long series against South Africa . No major changes were made in the squad apart from surprise national duty calls for Karnataka seamer Sreenath Aravind and Punjab all-rounder Gurkeerat Singh Mann in India’s T20 and ODI line-up respectively.
Gurkeerat has impressed with a fulfilling Ranji Trophy 2014-15 season, having scored 677 runs at an average of 56, while Aravind picked up eight wickets from five matches during the IPL. Both are currently featuring in the India A squad coached by the legendary Rahul Dravid. While Gurkeerat scored a century and picked up a five wickets in the first unofficial ODI, Aravind picked up 3 for 29 in the same match. The Punjab player’s 87 against Australia A in August helped India A clinch the tri-series title.
Delhi opener Shikhar Dhawan, who was out injured with a fractured finger retained his place in the limited-overs front. Also, the board has decided to go ahead with four spinners for the T20s, with Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra and Axar Patel set to partner veteran offspinner Harbhajan Singh. Even though Harbhajan was dropped after the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle, where he managed just one wicket, he had bagged six wickets in three ODIs and one T20 against Zimbabwe.
Big surprise is that Ravindra Jadeja, who was axed from the Zimbabwe ODIs, continues to not find a place in both squads. Jadeja last played in the second ODI against Bangladesh in June. After being rested for the Zimbabwe tour, high-profile players as Test skipper Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ashwin and Suresh Raina were automatic selections in both squads and so were Ambati Rayudu and Mohit Sharma.
Fast bowler Mohammed Shami was not included in the squad because he is still undergoing rehabilitation for the knee injury he suffered during the tour of Australia in 2014-15.
Chairman of selectors Sandeep Patil also asserted that the Indian side has been doing well under MS Dhoni and that there are no immediate changes required in India’s captaincy in the shorter formats.
T20I: MS Dhoni (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane, Stuart Binny, Ambati Rayudu, Stuart Binny, R Ashwin, Akshar Patel, Harbhajan Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma, Amit Mishra, S Aravind.
ODI: MS Dhoni (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane, Stuart Binny, R Ashwin, Akshar Patel, Gurkeerat Mann, Amit Mishra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma and Umesh Yadav.