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July 4, 2013
MS Dhoni, who injured his right hamstring during India's tri-series opener in the West Indies, is likely to be ruled out for India's short tour to Zimbabwe that begins July 24. If Dhoni is indeed unavailable, Gautam Gambhir is likely to earn a recall into the team.
While announcing India's squad for the Champions Trophy on May 4, the national selectors had also named 21 probables for the ongoing tri-series in the West Indies. Besides the 15 who featured in India's victorious Champions Trophy campaign, the probables included Ambati Rayudu, Manoj Tiwary, Praveen Kumar, Shami Ahmed, Rahul Sharma and Gambhir.
Shami replaced Irfan Pathan after the latter injured himself while training for the West Indies tri-series. Rayudu came in for Dhoni who was ruled out of the tri-series on July 1.
With Tiwary, the only other specialist batsman in the list, having twisted his left knee, Gambhir remains the only viable candidate to lend solidity to what has become an inexperienced India batting line-up. With his experience, Gambhir could also come in handy as a member of the leadership group, thus helping Virat Kohli, who is set to be retained as captain in the event of Dhoni's unavailability.
It will be interesting to see if the selectors opt to rest a few overworked players. Discussions around need for rest could focus on R Ashwin, Suresh Raina, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav. If Ashwin is indeed rested, Jammu & Kashmir offspinner Parvez Rasool could come in contention along with Rahul Sharma, who is named in the probables.
With the selectors' eyes set on the tour to South Africa later this year, it is possible that Praveen Kumar, who was in the probables, may be given another chance. If the selectors feel the necessity to bring in either Cheteshwar Pujara or Ajinkya Rahane for the Zimbabwe ODIs ahead of the India's A tour to South Africa, Murali Vijay could be a casualty.
However, with the India A tour to South Africa set to start immediately after the Zimbabwe series' conclusion, it is unlikely that the selectors will try out too many youngsters. With the current group having fared well during the Champions Trophy, it is possible that some of the batsmen, who haven't got enough opportunities, may be asked to join the A team in South Africa.
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Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Zimbabwe and South Africa
Would he have fared better than the incumbent middle-order batsmen, Root and Ballance?