India's next gen on display in Zimbabwe tour
A couple of years ago, it was unthinkable to have an Indian team take the field without the names like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, and Harbhajan Singh.
But now to think of even one with them is quite difficult.
The selectors took some tough choices over the past 6 months to a year and gave shape to a new and improved Indian ODI team.
It was just two years ago when the 6 aforementioned players played in the triumphant World Cup winning Indian team. All 6 players were part of the XI that took the field in the final of the 2011 ICC World Cup.
But none of them was part of the Indian squad that toured England for the Champions Trophy and then the West Indies for the tri-series. India won both the tournaments.
A team that was once occupied by Sachin, Sehwag, Gambhir, Yuvraj, Zaheer, Harbhajan is now comprised of Dhawan, Sharma, Karthik, Jadeja, Ashwin, and Yadav.
The new generation has taken over and are just continuing on from where their predecessors left.
Tomorrow, India’s new generation will take another step.
While the seniors had made way for the new and fresh youngsters in the Champions Trophy and the tri-series, Dhoni was still at the helm in both those competitions.
In Zimbabwe, where India will play 5 ODIs over the next 10 days, there is no Dhoni.
Virat Kohli, who made his ODI captaincy debut during the tri-series in the West Indies, is in charge and there are a number of uncapped players in the squad.
While the next gen of Kohli, Rohit, Raina, Dhawan, Jadeja, Karthik, and Rahane are all there, the Indian selectors have for the first time provided an opportunity to the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ambati Rayudu.
Both Pujara and Rayudu have promised a lot over the many years past. Pujara has a phenomenal List A average of 57! Given the success that he has had in Yest cricket, it is a bit surprising that he hasn’t played ODIs for India yet.
Rayudu, on the other hand, was a teenage prodigy of sorts but then lost his way in the defunct ICL. He has an impressive domestic records and has had successful IPL stints.
India’s pace bowling department that is in Zimbabwe is completely raw. Only Mohammad Shami and Vinay Kumar have some ODIs experience but that is also limited to 6 and 23 matches respectively. Both Jaydev Unadkat and Mohit Sharma are uncapped.
While in the spin department there is no Ashwin, Ojha, or Bhajji. Instead chances have been given to Amit Mishra, who has played 15 ODIs, and Pervez Rasool, the first ever player from Jammu & Kashmir to be selected in the Indian cricket squad.
Even though the opponents are Zimbabwe, the lowest ranked ODI team, it will be a challenge for India’s new look ODI team.
With Dhawan and Rohit at the top, followed by a middle order that could comprise any of Kohli, Raina, Pujara, Rahane, Karthik, and Rayudu, you can bet on the batting to fire.
It is the inexperienced bowling that will be a worry for Kohli.
While this is a new looking Indian side, it is quite difficult to imagine them losing a game in this series.
They are the World’s number 1 ODI team, they are the World Champions, they are the Champions Trophy winners. To think that Zimbabwe can upset them is thinking the impossible.
So what if Dhoni is not there. The rest of the Indian team is totally capable of coming up trumps.
It will be a good test for the future as well – a test for Virat Kohli who is considered a future Indian captain, a test for the new middle order batsmen, and a test for the new bowling attack.
The selectors have done their job, now it is up to the players to do theirs.