The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) named the India squad for the six-match ODI series on the tour of South Africa. Skipper Virat Kohli after opting out of the home series against the Sri Lankans will be back in action marching his troops. The selectors have named a 17-man squad that includes nine specialist batsmen, two all-rounders and six bowlers.
Despite a common opinion, Lokesh Rahul who isn’t just an option for the opening role but can also man the responsibility in the middle has been ignored by MSK Prasad & Co. Ajinkya Rahane whose in the midst of a dry run in Test cricket, a format considered his stronger suit has been included in the team as the backup opener. Shreyas Iyer who impressed most with his instinctive stroke play at No.3 in the series against Sri Lanka scoring two half centuries will also travel with the team to the rainbow nation.
The middle muddle
The middle-order is composed of the unorthodox Manish Pandey, who though susceptible against the moving ball has proved his ability to score quick runs in the middle overs and towards the end. Kedar Jadhav, the utility player in this team also finds his name on the squad list and so does Dinesh Karthik who hasn’t had a real opportunity to showcase his skills and failed on instances when the top order was blown away.
MS Dhoni‘s calm demeanour will lend stability to the otherwise inexperienced middle-order as most youngsters will board a flight to South Africa in the blues for the first time. Hardik Pandya and Axar Patel are the team’s all-rounders. We will see more of Pandya on the tour given he adds teeth to the team’s seam bowling department.
Wrist spin is the way forward for India at least in limited-overs cricket and new spin-twin Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal are a part of this unit. Though it is likely that only one of the three spinners including the left-arm spinner Patel will make it to the starting XI.
On expected lines, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami constitute the pace bowling trio while they will have a two-ODI old partner in Shardul Thakur instead of Umesh Yadav. Thakur has the skill required to move the ball and extract pace and bounce from the surface. He can be a handful for the team in conditions that assist seam bowling.