Team India recently won their maiden bilateral ODI series in Australia and are looking set for the upcoming 2019 ICC World Cup with 10 more ODIs in hand to finalize their squad for the mega event.
With the senior team now touring New Zealand for five ODIs and three T20Is, the national selectors named the India A squads for the five 50 over matches against visiting England Lions and many were surprised to see the name of Ajinkya Rahane, who was named the captain for the first three matches to be played in Thiruvananthapuram from January 23 .
Also named in the team was Rishabh Pant, who will play the last two games against the Lions.
TOI has reliably learned that the Indian team management has asked Pant to bat up the order in these two one-dayers before he flies out to New Zealand for the three-match T20I series in February.
This was done as both Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul are involved in a legal tangle over their punishments for the controversial remarks they made on Koffee with Karan.
TOI also reported that team management has doubts over Shikhar Dhawan’s ODI form, as the opener failed to score a fifty in the recently concluded ODI series against Australia. Same has been reported about Ambati Rayudu at no.4.
"Recently, Pant has been told by the team management to bat up the order and get used to the newer ball. If need be, Pant could come in as a reserve top order batsman. The selectors don't want a situation where they don't have a back-up ready. Anyway, Pant was given rest to come back fresh for the limited-overs season," the source told TOI.
Now that MS Dhoni has regained form and Dinesh Karthik and Kedar Jadhav have performed under pressure, the middle-order is pretty much settled. Pant is seen as a top order batsman now.
INDIA A SQUAD FOR 1ST, 2ND & 3RD ONE-DAYERS:
Ajinkya Rahane (C), Anmolpreet Singh, Rituraj Gaekwad, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Ankit Bawne, Ishan Kishan (WK), Krunal Pandya, Axar Patel, Mayank Markande, Jayant Yadav, Siddarth Kaul, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini
INDIA A SQUAD FOR 4TH & 5TH ONE-DAYERS:
Ankit Bawne (C), Rituraj Gaekwad, Anmolpreet Singh, Ricky Bhui, Siddhesh Lad, Himmat Singh, Rishabh Pant (WK), Deepak Hooda, Axar Patel, Rahul Chahar, Jayant Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Avesh Khan, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur.