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Select Team: Should India pick Rahane for 1st ODI?

By Harish Kotian
August 18, 2017 09:04 IST
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With Rahul likely to bat at No 4, asks Harish Kotian, will Ajinkya Rahane get a look in?
Pick India's playing eleven for the first ODI against Sri Lanka on Sunday.

Ajinkya Rahane

IMAGE: Ajinkya Rahane hits out. Photograph: Cricket West Indies

After whitewashing Sri Lanka in the three Test series, India will start as the favourites in the five match ODI series, which starts in Dambulla, on Sunday, August 20.

In the Tests, Sri Lanka struggled with both bat and ball and will hope to be much more competitive in the ODIs.

Its recent record has not been encouraging; the team was recently beaten 2-3 by Zimbabwe in an ODI series at home last month, which had led to Angelo Mathews resigning as captain.

 

The Upul Tharanga-led side will look to take some inspiration from the Sri Lankans' upset victory against India in the ICC Champions Trophy at the Oval in London in June.

Their young batting line-up left the Indians stunned as they chased down a mighty 322 with Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews all hitting half-centuries.

India, will look at this series to kick-start preparations for the 2019 World Cup in England.

The selectors have laid down the marker by bringing in youngsters, keeping out experienced campaigners like Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina have been kept out after they failed their fitness tests.

There is no doubting the fitness of India's 36-year-old wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, whom the selectors believe could still be an important player for India in England in 2019.

K L Rahul's return gives Captain Virat Kohli and the team management more options in the middle order.

Ajinkya Rahane, who is also in contention, has struggled to find a permanent berth in the ODI team.

He failed to get a single game in the ICC Champions Trophy, but made an impact in the West Indies series that followed.

Opening the batting in place of Rohit Sharma who was rested for the Windies series, Rahane hit a century and three fifties in five games.

Rohit's return at the top and other options for the middle order slots means Rahane could yet again find himself in the dugout.

Chief Selector M S K Prasad has announced that India will try out Rahul at number four.

'He is too good a player to sit out. Because Shikhar (Dhawan) and Rohit are in very good form, we will start with KL in that particular order,' the former India 'keeper said.

'These are different permutations and combinations we will keep trying till the end of this year and it will boil down to one particular pattern and then we will continue with that,' he added.

Another player in the reckoning for the middle order will be Manish Pandey who had a superb series for India 'A' in South Africa, scoring 307 runs in five games.

Spinning all-rounder Kedar Jadhav will be handy in the Sri Lankan conditions along with Hardik Pandya who proved his mettle in the Test series.

In the absence of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, the team management will need to pick two spinners from Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Singh.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, who have done well recently, will be the two preferred choices in the fast bowling department.

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