4:43 am - Tuesday June 18, 2024

MS Dhoni set to return after a long break with focus on World T20

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India’s limited overs captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be back in the thick of things after a three month break as Indian selectors will be picking the squad for the upcoming T20 International and ODI series against South Africa, starting October 2.

There is a possibility that selectors may name squads for T20s and first three ODIs. While there are three T20 internationals slated at the start of the series, the focus for both Dhoni and selectors will be on World T20 which will be held in India in five months time.

While it was nothing more than an extended practice session, Dhoni again wielded the willow in a charity game two days back at the Oval in London and scored 38 runs in a winning cause.

India’s last limited overs series was against Zimbabwe where a second string side was selected to play under Ajinkya Rahane with as many as seven first team players being rested.

Now with Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin all fit and available, some of the fringe players may have to make way for senior stars.

The only injury concern right now is Shikhar Dhawan who is recuperating from fractured hand and will get his fitness test done.

Opening batsman Murali Vijay, who has become a Test specialist, had a decent Zimbabwe tour and he would like to show his utility in shorter formats. Ambati Rayudu of late has been Dhoni’s preferred choice in place of Ajinkya Rahane for being a better rotator of strike. Kedar Jadhav and Manish Pandey, two players with decent T20 record, might also get a look in.

The two new faces that can come in contention are Gurkeerat Singh Mann of Punjab and Mayank Agarwal of Karnataka with both doing well for India A.

While Ashwin is a certainty, it will be interesting to see if selectors prefer Harbhajan Singh as second spinner due to his IPL exploits and his ability to restrict batsmen in shorter format. Ravindra Jadeja has been ignored for Zimbabwe and selectors would like to see him too.

Among the pacers, Ishant Sharma, banned for a Test match, might also want to get into the thick of things if selectors give him a chance. Mohit Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been two of Dhoni’s trusted seamers in shorter format with Dhawal Kulkarni being the back-up man.

Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav are known to be erratic but both might be tried out during the long series as India will be fretting on perfect combination with a mega event round the corner.

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