While a proposed series with Pakistan now looks almost certain not to happen for the foreseeable future, preparations for India’s tour of Australia are stepping up. In the past few days India’s cricket board announced the squads that will compete in both One-Day international and Twenty20 series Down Under next month. And they have also confirmed that limited-overs captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni will remain in place, at least through until next year’s World T20.
There were real hopes that India would currently be taking on Pakistan in just the fierce rivals’ second bilateral series since 2007 and the Mumbai terror attacks the following year. But while both countries’ cricket authorities agreed to a proposed shortened series in Sri Lanka, India’s government is believed to have prevented it from going ahead.
As a result, attention now turns to Australia and what are some hugely important contests for India, and especially Dhoni. The pressure has been on the 34-year-old ever since India’s ODI side followed up the relinquishing of their World Cup title to Australia with a first-ever series defeat to Bangladesh in June. With India then losing both T20 and ODI series to South Africa on home soil in October, questions have continued to be asked about whether Dhoni is still the right man to lead the team forward. In an effort to quash such talk, the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s chairman of selectors reaffirmed the commitment to Dhoni until the World T20, which will take place in India from March to April, 2016.
"We named Dhoni as the captain as we wanted to end the speculations in the media,” Sandeep Patil said, according to The Times of India. “Not only media but players in general should know who will be their leader.”
It was during India’s last tour of Australia, a year ago, that Dhoni relinquished the Test captaincy, hoping to enjoy the remainder of his career in the limited-overs format. So far that hasn’t quite gone to plan. In an effort to rejuvenate the team’s fortunes, a refreshed squad has been revealed to head to Australia. The headline decision was the omission of batsman Suresh Raina from the ODI squad, although he is in the T20 squad. Also in the T20 party is all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, who has returned to the international fold for the first time since the 2014 World T20 final, and pace bowler Ashis Nehra, whose last outing for India came in 2011.
“Yuvraj Singh will always remain special,” Sandeep Patil said, reports ESPN. “The selectors are very happy, and the captain is also very happy to have him back. We cannot promise any player whether he will be part of the next tour or the World Cup. We want every player to perform and every player has a chance to come back in the team.”
ODI Squad: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni (Captain), (Wicketkeeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohd. Shami, Axar Patel, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Rishi Dhawan, Brainder Balbirsingh Sran.
T20I Squad: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (Captain), (Wicketkeeper), Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohd. Shami, Harbhajan Singh, Umesh Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashish Nehra.
India schedule in Australia
ODI series (all matches begin at 10:20 p.m. EST)
1st ODI: Jan. 11 at the Western Australia Cricket Association Ground, Perth.
2nd ODI: Jan. 14 at the Brisbane Cricket Ground.
3rd ODI: Jan. 16 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
4th ODI: Jan. 19 at the Manuka Oval, Canberra.
5th ODI: Jan. 22 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
1st T20I: Jan. 26 at the Adelaide Oval (2:38 a.m. EST).
2nd T20I: Jan. 29 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (3:38 a.m. EST).
3rd T20I: Jan. 31 at the Sydney Cricket Ground (3:38 a.m. EST).