MS DHONI HAS OPTED OUT OF THE SRI LANKAN TOUR TO INDIA

MS Dhoni has opted out of the first three ODIs against Sri Lanka, citing the need for a break to freshen up ahead of the tour of Australia and the World Cup. Virat Kohli will stand in as captain, andWriddhiman Saha, who scored a century in the IPL final earlier this year, will take care of wicketkeeping duties. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been rested, making way for Varun Aaron.

Sri Lanka are touring India as a replacement for West Indies, whose players refused to continue with their full tour because of payment structure disputes with the WICB and WIPA.

R Ashwin, who was rested for the West Indies ODIs, came back into the side, replacing chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, who joined Sanju Samson and Karn Sharma in the India A squad as the players who have recently spent time in the India squad but have been dropped without getting a cap. Samson had been picked as back-up keeper only when Saha injured himself during the Tests in England. Now fit, Saha takes back his place as No. 2 wicketkeeper-batsman.

India picked Rohit Sharma, who was India’s first-choice ODI opener until he got injured in England, for the A side to play the warm-up match against the touring Sri Lankans, but he has been left out of the first three ODIs. The tour match will be played on October 30 at the Brabourne Stadium.

Rohit’s role in the World Cup has sparked significant debate. He filled in the opening void left by the disposed Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, and scored heavily at home, including a double-century against Australia, but away from home his slow starts, often not converted into big innings, resulted in too much pressure on the middle order. Ajinkya Rahane has been opening in Rohit’s absence, and where the two bat once Rohit returns remains a matter of interest. ESPNcricinfo understands that Rohit’s fitness will be assessed during the warm-up game. If he is fully fit, he will walk into the side for the last two ODIs.

The rest of the squad that played West Indies was retained. The dates for the series are yet to be announced, but they will be played in Cuttack, Kolkata, Ranchi, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad.

India A squad for the tour match Manoj Tiwary (capt.), Unmukt Chand, Manan Vohra, Karun Nair, Rohit Sharma, Kedar Jadhav, Sanju Samson, Parvez Rasool, Karn Sharma, Stuart Binny, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jasprit Bumrah, Manish Pandey, Kuldeep Yadav.

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