New Delhi: Not one, not two, but six. Yes six cricketers, who have been quite regular in their appearance for India in the limited-overs scenario, have been rested for upcoming Tri-nation Twenty20 International series — Nidahas Trophy 2018. With the announcement of the 15-member squad on Sunday, what came as a bit of a surprise for most cricket fans was the absence of Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni, together. Even during the home series against Sri Lanka which Kohli had opted citing personal reasons, Dhoni had featured in the ODIs and in the T20Is. However, for the first time in years or months, neither of the big names are going to lighten up a limited-overs series. When did that last happen? Ever wondered?
A day after India’s seven-run win over South Africa in the Newlands decider that helped them clinch the three-match T20I series 2-1, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced the 15-member squad. And in the absence of Kohli, Rohit Sharma has been adjudged as the captain and Shikhar Dhawan as the vice-captain for a team filled with young talent.
Kohli, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Dhoni, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah – have all been kept aside of the Nidahas Trophy campaign, with selection committee urging for a reduction in workload and prevention of injury of the top players. Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Vijay Shankar and Mohammad Siraj are some of the rookie players that had earned a chance to don the Indian blue, while Suresh Raina was retained for his superlative performance in the T20I series against South Africa.
“We’ve kept in mind the workload and upcoming schedule while finalizing the team for Nidahas Trophy. The high-performance team has suggested that adequate rest should be given to our fast bowlers to help improve athletic performance, maximize rest and prevent injury,” said Chairman of selectors MSK Prasad.
Well, it has indeed been a long and arduous journey for Team India in their packed 2017-18 season. Kicking off with the tour of West Indies, which featured both the stalwarts, India began their juggernaut scripting the best year in terms of the number of victories claimed. India ‘tour washed’ Sri Lanka, razed by Australia and New Zealand in the ODIs, but drew the T20Is against both the countries. And finally ended the year with another dominating win over hapless Sri Lanka in a full cricketing fixture at home.
Kohli-led India were then up for the one-big challenge, dubbed as their ‘first real test’. After building a fortress on home turf, India headed south to take on South Africa, a country that they had never defeated in a Test or in an ODI series.
India lost the first two Tests and criticisms garnered the team and the captain. However, they bounced back to script one of the greatest Test victories on all time on a ‘challenging’ Johannesburg track end the three-match series 1-2. Picking up their momentum from there on India rampaged South African hope in the ODIs as the Kohli-led Men in Blue became the first Indian side to win a bilateral series on Proteas soil. India won 5-1. Their daunting side continued to hunt down South Africa as they ended the final leg of the tour, winning the T20I series 2-1.
After all the herculean effort, India are now up for the season-ending series, the Nidahas Trophy. And it is surely not surprising that the board opted to give the top players some rest for they will surely feature in the 11th edition of Indian Premier League followed by the start of the new season with one-off Test against Afghanistan and India’s tour of Ireland and then England.
However, it has been often that India have rested Kohli and Dhoni at the same time. So, when did that last happen?
India’s tour of Zimbabwe. In 2015. Almost 32 months back.
Ajinkya Rahane was the captain and he led India to a dominating 3-0 whitewash over Zimbabwe in the ODIs, but the hosts pulled off a thrilling win in the second and final T20I to draw the T20I series 1-1.
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