Mumbai, May 23 (IANS) Despite being in top form in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL), star batsman Suresh Raina was dropped from the Indian cricket squads announced on Monday for the limited overs tour to Zimbabwe in June and the four-match Test tour to the West Indies in July-August.
While Raina, who led Gujarat Lions squad to the IPL play-offs after finishing atop the table, has been ignored, Mumbai batsman Rohit Sharma’s inclusion in the Virat Kohli-led Test squad has raised a few eyebrows.
With a dismal average of 33.18 in 16 Tests, the 29-year-old Rohit has found the going tough in the longest format of the game with just 896 runs under his belt.
Both the teams will witness the inclusion of fresh faces in Vidarbha opener Faiz Faisal, Karnataka batsman Karun Nair, Punjab batsman Mandeep Singh and Haryana spin duo of Jayant Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal for the Zimbabwe tour.
An impressive performance in the Ranji Trophy earned Mumbai seamer Shardul Thakur a call-up for the West Indies Test tour.
“The Zimbabwe tour is looked as specially for the youngsters to try and test them. The young team which has been sent should give their best and perform… nothing better opportunity than this. They will get ample experience from this,” selection committee chairman Sandeep Patil said while announcing the two squads here.
“We wanted variation in our bowling so Axar, Chahal and Yadav have found a place in the side,” he added.
The selection committee retained Mahendra Singh Dhoni as skipper for the Zimbabwe limited-overs tour starting from June 11, while star batsman Virat Kohli will lead the side for the four-match Test series against the West Indies.
Many of the senior members, including Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan and Ravichandran Ashwin have been rested for the Zimbabwe tour, comprising three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and as many Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is).
Karnataka batsman Manish Pandey, who hit a century in his last ODI outing against Australia last year, will aim to cement his place in the middle order which comprises Ambati Rayudu, Dhoni and Lokesh Rahul.
Maharastra stumper Kedar Jadhav is the reserve keeper while the bowling unit will be led by promising pace duo of Jasprit Bumrah and Barinder Sran.
Dhawal Kulkarni, Rishi Dhawan and Jaidev Unadkat are the other pacers in the side while the spin department includes left-arm spinner Axar Patel, Jayant and Chahal.
On the other hand, the Kohli-led Test squad will have Mumbai batter Ajinkya Rahane as his deputy.
The Test squad is more or less a settled unit with Murali Vijay and Dhawan being the regular openers while the middle order has the likes of Kohli, Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara.
Rahul, who found himself in both the teams, is the reserve opening and wicket-keeping option for the Test squad with Bengal’s Wriddhiman Saha the first choice stumper.
The bowling unit will be led by seasoned Ishant Sharma which will see the return of Mohammed Shami. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Shardul and Stuart Binny are the other members of the bowling department.
The spin department comprises Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
Veterans Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh were ignored for both the tours. When asked if the duo were heading towards retirement, the selection committee chief pointed out that the panel is looking at the future of the country’s cricket.
“Selectors have no right to tell anyone to retire. We are looking at future of Indian cricket. We will be happy if they perform and will be happy to get them back,” Patil said.
The squads for the Zimbabwe limited overs tour: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain & wk), Lokesh Rahul, Faiz Fazal, Manish Pandey, Karun Nair, Ambati Rayudu, Rishi Dhawan, Axar Patel, Jayant Yadav, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jasprit Bumrah, Barinder Sran, Mandeep Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Jaydev Unadkat, Yuzvendra Chahal.
The Test squad for the West Indies tour: Virat Kohli (captain), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Stuart Binny.