Dhoni, Kohli rested, Rahane to lead India

New Delhi, June 29 (IANS) Middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane was on Monday made captain of the 15-member Indian cricket team that will tour Zimbabwe in July as Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli among other seniors were rested.

Opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin, Rohit Sharma and Umesh Yadav along with Dhoni and Kohli were rested by the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) All-India Senior Selection Committee which met here on Monday.

India will play three One-Day Internationals (ODI) and two Twenty20 Internationals from July 10 to 19 in Harare.

Meanwhile, another middle-order bat, Cheteshwar Pujara, has been named skipper of the India A squad for the two four-day games against Australia A. Both the games will be played in Chennai — from July 22 to 25 and from July 29 to August 1.

This will be the first time legendary Rahul Dravid will be in-charge of the A team since he was appointed India Under-19 and India A coach earlier this month.

Chairman of selectors Sandeep Patil said the rested players were given a lay-off period on their own request. India have been playing cricket continually since the Australia series which started last year in November.

Meanwhile, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja’s name does not figure in the squad – impliedly, he has been dropped. The southpaw’s performance has dipped off-late. However, despite being “rested” from the India squad, pace bowler Yadav was still named in the India A team.

No specialist wicketkeeper has been named in the squad but Robin Uthappa, Kedar Jadhav and Ambati Rayudu, all of whom have been selected, have kept wickets in the past.

Meanwhile, veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh made a comeback to the ODI squad in four years. He last played an ODI in June 2011 against the West Indies while he was last picked for T20Is in September 2012 against Australia. He will be accompanied by left-arm tweaker Axar Patel and leggie Karn Sharma.

Murali Vijay, who is a regular opener in Tests, is likely to partner Rahane at the top of the order as Manish Pandey and Manoj Tiwary are the other batsmen named in the squad. Among pacers, Dhawal Kulkarni, Stuart Binny, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohit Sharma were retained with Punjab’s uncapped Sandeep Sharma joining them.

Team director Ravi Shastri will not travel to Zimbabwe due to “prior engagements” but other members of the support staff will will go with the team.

The teams are:

India squad: Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Murali Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, Manoj Tiwary, Kedar Jadhav, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Harbhajan Singh, Axar Patel, Karn Sharma, Dhawal Kulkarni, Stuart Binny, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma.

India A squad: Cheteshwar Pujara (Captain), Lokesh Rahul, Abhinav Mukund, Karun Nair, Shreyas Iyer, Naman Ojha, Vijay Shankar, Amit Mishra, Pragyan Ojha, Shardul Thakur, Varun Aaron, Abhimanyu Mithun, Umesh Yadav, Shreyas Gopal, Baba Aparajith.

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