Parvez Rasool and Mohit Sharma were drafted into the Indian team for a brief limited-overs trip to Zimbabwe later this month, named in a 15-man squad which will be led by Virat Kohli.
Kohli is currently leading the team in the tri-series in the Caribbean, following a hamstring injury to Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The Zimbabwe tour, which will include five One-Day Internationals, will mark his first full-time stint as the national skipper with Dhoni being given more time to recover from his Grade 1 hamstring tear.
Rasool, the offspinning allrounder from Jammu and Kashmir, had an excellent domestic season while Mohit, the paceman from Haryana, caught the eye with his incisive bursts for Chennai Super Kings in Season-VI of the Indian Premier League. The 24-year-old Rasool is the first player from Jammu & Kashmir to be named in the Indian side.
Given that he was part of A sides that did duty against visiting teams in the season gone by and occasionally bowled in the Indian nets too, his selection was on the cards.
Contrary to popular perception, there was no comeback for Gautam Gambhir, the experienced left-hand opening batsman who has been out of favour since the ODI series against England in January, even though M Vijay, the Tamil Nadu opener, has been left out of the squad that did duty in the Champions Trophy in England and is part of the squad in the West Indies at the moment. Vijay has figured in just one ODI out of the seven India have played since the start of the Champions Trophy, and his exclusion has to be viewed against the success Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have had both individually and collectively as an opening pair, perhaps the same logic that has kept Gambhir on the sidelines once more.
Ajinkya Rahane, who played against England in January, has been recalled along with the Saurashtra duo of Jaidev Unadkat and Cheteshwar Pujara, both of whom have played Test cricket but are yet to make their ODI debuts.
The selectors have opted to rest R Ashwin, the Tamil Nadu offspinner, as well as the pace bowling trio of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav, leaving R Vinay Kumar to spearhead an attack that boasts two uncapped players and a grand total of 28 ODI appearances - 22 by Vinay and six by Mohammed Shami, who flew out to the West Indies as replacement for the injured Irfan Pathan.
India and Zimbabwe will meet in the first of five ODIs in Harare on July 24. The second and third ODIs too will be played in Harare, on July 24 and 26, before the teams travel to Bulawayo for the last two matches on July 31 and August 3.
Pujara, meanwhile, has been named skipper of a 16-man India A squad that will tour South Africa to play a triangular series against the A sides of South Africa and Australia, as well as two four-day games against the home side, from August 8 to 27. With India scheduled to travel to South Africa later this year for a full series, several top-order batsmen figure in the team, including Dhawan, Vijay, Rohit, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Rahane and Dinesh Karthik.
Stuart Binny, the Karnataka allrounder who has had two excellent domestic seasons, has been included in the squad alongside Ishwar Pandey, Siddarth Kaul, Unadkat and Shami as the pace bowling options. There is a call-up for Shahbaz Nadeem, the Jharkhand left-arm spinner who will have Rasool for company as the other specialist spinning option.
Team India to Zimbabwe:
Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Cheteshwar Pujara, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Parveez Rasool, Mohammed Shami, R Vinay Kumar, Jaidev Unadkat, Mohit Sharma.
India 'A' to South Africa: Cheteshwar Pujara (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, M Vijay, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Parveez Rasool, Shahbaz Nadeem, Mohammed Shami, Stuart Binny, Ishwar Pandey, Jaidev Unadkat, Siddarth Kaul.