India’s selection conundrum for the Zimbabwe tour

India’s selection conundrum for the Zimbabwe tour

India
India team. (Photo Source: AFP)

The Indian selectors have a tough job. Picking a side in a country which boasts of factories of talent is far from an easy job. It is just a tour to Zimbabwe. The latter has even been surpassed by newcomers Afghanistan on multiple occasions recently. However, this is an important tour in the scheme of things when it comes to a number of limited overs matches the men in blue will be playing in this calendar year. Team India will travel to Zimbabwe to play three ODIs and three T20 internationals on their short tour before making it back to the subcontinent to play a bevy of 17 Test matches.

While this is certainly good news for the average Indian fan who enjoys Test cricket, it is certainly bad news for those who revel in the limited overs format.

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That said, we have made an attempt to piece together some combinations of the side that would go to Zimbabwe. The squad includes a list of 20 probable players as well as the outsiders who could possibly make it to the squad. That said, here is a quick analysis on what could transpire on the selection of the squad.

Batsmen

In contention: Yuvraj Singh, Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Ajinkya Rahane, Yusuf Pathan, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan

Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu, and Manish Pandey were all part of the side that was on the last tour to Zimbabwe. Moreover, the captaincy was handed to Ajinkya Rahane who took great pride in securing his first ever series win as skipper. Pandey and Rayudu also proved to be immensely impressive in the series.

Yuvraj Singh after missing out World T20 semi-final match against West Indies due to an ankle injury made a comeback midway through the IPL 2016. He took a couple of games to get back his form but in the last few matches has looked at his best hitting some beautiful sixes. Considering the fact that he isn’t in contention for a Test spot the selectors might well give the veteran an opportunity to have a go for the Zimbabwe tour.

Although Murali Vijay will be expected to play a big part in the 17 Test matches that are upcoming, he is a favorite to be a part of the side especially after his IPL captaincy and subsequent exploits. KL Rahul was initially viewed by the selectors as a Test batsman. However, his recent exploits in the IPL have gone on to underline his credentials, something that will increase his credibility as a limited overs player. Rahul has scored 348 runs in 11 matches which includes 4 half centuries.

The real outsider will be Yusuf Pathan. Following an impressive World Cup campaign, the older of the Pathan brothers lost his steam mid-way and become confined to his KKR jersey in the IPL. However, some impressive and consistent performances with the bat in the ongoing edition of the tournament has seen him back in contention to don the India jersey once more. It remains to be seen if he gets his call to duty or not. Yusuf has scored 359 runs in the 14 matches this season with a supreme average of 89.75. He returned unbeaten on 8 occasions in the tournament and played the perfect role of a finisher for KKR scoring 3 fifties in crucial games.

Wicketkeepers

In contention: Robin Uthappa, MS Dhoni, Sanju Samson

Robin Uthappa and Sanju Samson were a part of the side that toured the country in 2015. While Uthappa kept wickets in all the ODIs and T20s, Samson played the final T20 which saw him make his debut in India colors only for the men in blue to concede the match to the Zimbabweans.

While all that can take care of itself, the selection of Indian skipper MS Dhoni may well be the turning point for Uthappa and Samson. Dhoni’s selection may well see both these players being excluded from the side only for KL Rahul to provide as a backup for the skipper. Although he is yet to take his decision to be on the tour, MSD will not have any cricketing commitments for most part of the year.

All-rounders

In contention: Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel

The Pandya brothers are well on their way to emulating Irfan and Yusuf Pathan. While Hardik Pandya may be included in the side for his reputation, Krunal Pandya may get a look-in for his devastating form in the IPL. Although it seems to be a bit of a long shot, we may well see them both picked for the side.

Axar Patel’s inclusion in the side will see him making a comeback to the Indian side after a long wait. The southpaw has his IPL prowess to justify his selection in the side.

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Spinners

In contention: Amit Mishra, Harbhajan Singh

With spin twins Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja expected to be rested, the old guard may find their way back in. Amit Mishra and Harbhajan Singh have been on tours to Zimbabwe in the past. While the former didn’t go on the tour in 2015, he was the highest wicket-taker in 2014. They will also be well supported by Axar Patel.

Fast bowlers

In contention: Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma

Jasprit Bumrah has become the new sensation of Indian cricket following his inclusion in the T20 scheme of things. Mohit Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were part of the setup the last time the Indians were on tour. Sandeep Sharma’s exploits in the recent IPL has seen him enter the fray for national selection. Mohammad Shami will be hoping to use this opportunity to get back to his best bowling prowess.

The Outsiders: Sarfaraz Khan, Karun Nair, Barinder Sran, Shreyas Iyer, Stuart Binny, Ashok Dinda

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