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Friday, 06 January 2017 10:15

Virat Kohli set to be named limited-overs captain

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Mumbai, Jan 6: At a time when India's cricket administration is set to be infused by a slew of fresh faces, the Indian cricket team too is set to launch itself into a new era, led by a dynamic captain, when the national selection committee meets on Friday to pick the team for the ODI and T20 series against England. The first ODI is in Pune on January 15.

vkThe announcement of the side for the six-match series (three ODIs and T20Is each) will see the coronation of Virat Kohli as the captain of the Indian team in all the formats, following MS Dhoni's sudden decision on Wednesday to quit the limited-overs captaincy and continue as a 'keeper-bat in the team. With India playing largely at home, Kohli has enjoyed tremendous success since he was made the Test skipper (13 wins in 21 Tests) a couple of years ago, but it would be interesting to see if he finds the going similarly easy in limited-overs cricket, where the team wasn't at its best under Dhoni in recent times.

It would be interesting to see if the ODI selections, from now, bear the stamp of 'Captain Virat.' At this moment, the top priority for Virat and the MSK Prasad-led panel must surely be the introduction of a few youngsters in the side, keeping in mind the next three major limited-overs events that India would take part in the next two-three years - the 2017 Champions Trophy in England, the 2019 World Cup in England and the 2020 World Cup in Australia. The top name on the list will be that of the Delhi youngster, Rishabh Pant, who scorched this season of the Ranji Trophy with 972 runs in eight games @ 81.00, with a fabulous strike rate of 107.28. This tally includes four hundreds, one of them being a triple-308 against Maharashtra at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

Apart from the 19-year-old left-hander, another young batsman-keeper who's in with a shout is Jharkhand's Ishan Kishan, who cracked 799 runs in 10 Ranji games @ 57.07 at a strike rate of 83.92. Both the young turks, if included, can utilise this opportunity to polish their glove-work under Dhoni who, on Friday, will be picked 'merely' as a player in the Indian team for the first time since 2007.

Karun Nair,, who made a huge impact with a triple ton in the recent Chennai Test against England, also stands a chance, especially as some of the regular ODI batsmen are out injured.

The trio of Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav and Mandeep Singh is likely to retain its spots in the squad. With the Mumbai duo of Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane fighting injuries, a fit-again Shikhar Dhawan, who had fractured his finger in a game against New Zealand at Kolkata, could stage a return.

The spin department is likely to be in the hands of an entirely new lot. R Ashwin is suffering from 'sports hernia,' Ravindra Jadeja needs to rest his shoulder after a gruelling five-Test series, Jayant Yadav has still not recovered from a hamstring injury, and left-arm spinner Axar Patel is also out due to a finger injury.

There is, thus, scope for a couple of at least a couple of new spinners - chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, and left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem to be called up. Nadeem is so far the top wicket-taker this Ranji season, having taken 56 scalps in 10 games @ 25.60 for Jharkhand.

There's no way that the selectors would risk Mohammed Shami in this series, considering that India would play five Tests after the limited-overs games, though Umesh Yadav is likely to be persisted with.


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