BCCI keen on strong squad for Zimbabwe tour

MS Dhoni may have hinted last week that his long season would end with the Bangladesh ODIs, but India's limited-overs captain could still find himself in the squad for the short tour of Zimbabwe next month.

The national selectors, who will meet in Delhi on Monday afternoon, are unlikely to rest too many regulars for the three ODIs and two T20Is. It is understood that the selectors are also keen on picking the strongest possible India A squad for a home tri-series against Australia A and South Africa A, which begins on July 19 and will overlap with the Zimbabwe tour.

With Dhoni having retired from Tests, some of the BCCI hierarchy feels he should be asked to lead in Zimbabwe since it's a shorter tour than the one in Bangladesh. Moreover, as India are not scheduled to play any limited-overs cricket for four months after the series in Zimbabwe, Dhoni will get ample rest before the build-up for the World Twenty20 starts with the home series against South Africa.

While some of the ODI regulars such as Dhoni, Virat Kohli, R Ashwin, Umesh Yadav and Rohit Sharma, who have been on the road for more than seven months, indicated to the board through the team management that they would like to rest, a BCCI insider revealed that a final decision will only be made by the selectors during the meeting.

It is still possible, though, that Kohli, Ashwin and Yadav are allowed to skip the Zimbabwe series, while Dhoni and Rohit are asked to stretch for another fortnight. If Dhoni is allowed to rest as well, it would leave Rohit and Suresh Raina as contenders for the captaincy. While Raina has lead second-string India teams in the past, Rohit is being looked at as a potential candidate to groom as captain.

Depending on the selectors' verdict, it will be decided whether fringe players like Robin Uthappa, Varun Aaron and Sanju Samson ply their trade in Harare or in Chennai.

It is understood that since the India A tri-series will be Rahul Dravid's first assignment as coach, the selectors want to give him a strong squad, likely to be led by Cheteshwar Pujara, to take on formidable oppositions. It remains to be seen how the selectors end up striking the balance in composition for both the series.

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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