Talented Karnataka batsman Manish Pandey is expected to make a comeback into the Indian limited overs squad for the upcoming series against Sri Lanka, which could well be veteran Yuvraj Singh’s last chance to revive his floundering international career.
It will also be interesting to note the selector’s stand on Ajinkya Rahane. With skipper Virat Kohli making it clear that he does not want rest, the batting group is expected to remain intact, but not without some selection conundrums.
Shikhar Dhawan was the highest run-getter in the Champions Trophy while KL Rahul is considered to be the man for all formats with centuries in each one of them.
Rohit Sharma is a certainty to again wear the blue jersey, but it’s still not known whether the selectors would rest Rahul despite being fully fit and in form.
Similarly, Rahane was the Man of the Series in West Indies, and Dinesh Karthik fared decently in the limited chances that he got, but both may still get the axe if the selectors decide to persist with Yuvraj.
Rahane and Karthik made it to the side as Rohit, Manish and Rahul – the first-team choices – were out. While Yuvraj’s place in the side has been questioned by many for the longest time now, he has the backing of skipper Kohli despite a lean run with the bat and below-par fielding.
In his last seven ODI appearances, Yuvraj has managed only 162 runs and was given bowling only once. His sloppy movement in the field has also been a problem.
Pandey was originally a part of the Champions Trophy squad but had to take a break due to an injury sustained during the IPL. He made an impressive comeback, leading India A to a tri-series triumph in South Africa, with 307 runs. He was out only once in five matches.
The policy that the Indian selectors have followed is that any cricketer, who was out owing to injury, can come back once he has proved his match fitness.
Another veteran Suresh Raina’s name is also doing the rounds after a two-month fitness stint in the Netherlands.
Raina was a stand-by for the Champions Trophy and should be in contention for a berth. But then Raina has not played a single ODIs since 2015, so there remains a question mark.
A school of thought is that both Raina and Yuvraj should be given one last chance to prove their mettle, keeping the 2019 World Cup in mind. The bowling department might see some shuffling as Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami are set to be rested.
Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel are likely to handle the slow bowling duties. Yorker specialist Jasprit Bumrah, along with middle-order batsman Kedar Jadhav and former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, will be back in the squad.
Young keeper-batsman Rishabh Pant is expected to be kept as Dhoni’s understudy. The selectors have also kept a close eye on Kerala’s Basil Thampi even though he did not have a great A tour of South Africa. PTI