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Selectors to pick squad for OZ series on Feb 15
New Delhi: The national selection committee is unlikely to make any experiment when they pick the squad for the T20I and ODI series against Australia on February 15 in Mumbai.
The Indian team is set to play two T20Is and five ODIs against the Aussies in what is set to be the last set of international games that the boys get before going into the 2019 World Cup in England, starting on May 30. The only practice they will get after this is in the Indian Premier League.
The five-match ODI series will start in Hyderabad on March 2 followed by matches in Nagpur (March 5), Ranchi (March 8), Mohali (March 10) and Delhi (March 13).
The team for the two T20 International matches to be played in Visakhapatnam (February 24) and Bengaluru (February 27) will also be announced on the same day.
It has been learnt that the team management as well as the selection committee are on the same page and the squad that will play against Australia is likely to be a mirror-image of the one that will be travelling to UK for the World Cup.
The Selection committee will look at keeping the right balance as they would not only wish to give the senior guys ample rest before going into the showpiece event, but also wouldn’t want to give the Australians the upper hand in what will be the last series before the World Cup.
India has been playing incessantly overseas and the fast bowling wolf pack has had no real rest.
There is a possibility that selectors may pick 16 members for the ODIs instead of 15 in order to check all the players in contention for the World Cup.
“There is a possibility that Rohit Sharma may be rested for the two T20 Internationals as Virat Kohli will be back. But when it comes to selecting the ODI squad, there won’t be any experiments with only five matches to go,” a senior BCCI official privy to the team selection process told PTI on Tuesday.
Asked about the much talked about workload management programme, the official said: “Most of our ODI boys will be getting good two and half weeks of rest. Well, the pacers can be rotated during the five matches but no one will be kept out of the squad and rested. Workload management will be required more during the IPL.
“As of now, there are only two spots that are up for grabs. The battle is for second wicket-keeper between Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant along with third opener’s slot. The team management at least won’t experiment during the first three games,” he informed.
While Rishabh Pant is almost certain to get more game time, it will be interesting to see if someone like Ajinkya Rahane gets one last go to seal a place in the World Cup squad.
In the bowling department too, Jasprit Bumrah is almost certain to make a comeback after a well-earned rest during the New Zealand series.
In fact, head coach Ravi Shastri has already made it clear that players will be monitored even during the IPL.
“We’ve been in touch with the BCCI and CoA in this regard. We have certain plans in place and we’ll be looking to follow them. Usually, the two months of IPL are seen as relatively free months for me and I can just sit down and enjoy the cricket, watch out for new, young talents that keep emerging. But this IPL will be about monitoring the players, keeping the World Cup in mind,” he said in a recent interview.
There is a school of thought that Shikhar Dhawan may be rested for the final two ODIs and just check if KL Rahul has found his form back in order to keep him ready for the mega event.
“However, it won’t be a case of any surprise selection as of now. It will just be a case of who plays on the day. Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar and Shami are all fit and available. Along with Khaleel, these four will be rotated to check the combination, more than the workload management,” the official said. (PTI)