Harare: The ODI series proving to be astroll in the park, Mahendra Singh Dhoni would look to finish his current season with another dominant performance when he leads India in the three-match Twenty20 series against a hapless Zimbabwe, starting here tomorrow. Riding high after inflicting a 3-0 whitewash on the hosts, Dhoni and his boys will try do an encore in the shortest version as well. The likes of Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, who toured here last time, will do well to remember that the T20 series in 2015 ended in 1-1 draw after the Ajinkya Rahane-led side lost the second game.
But the world’s most experienced T20 skipper in-charge and a team which has 14 out of the 15 players (save Faiz Fazal) with IPL contracts, India again are runaway favourites to decimate a Zimbabwe side which at times has looked inferior than many of the lower-rung first-class Indian sides. With the gulf between the two teams being so huge, Dhoni would ideally like to shuffle his batting order a bit and also try out some of the benchwarmers like Mandeep Singh, Jayant Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat, who will also be itching to get a game under their belt. However, Dhoni would ideally like to start the T20 series with another resounding win and having found a winning combination, he will ideally not like to tinker with it.
The small group of Indian supporters would be disappointed if Dhoni at least doesn’t promote himself up the order in one of the games as everyone is waiting to see the skipper devour a below mediocre Zimbabwe attack. KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Ambati Rayudu and Dhoni himself are certainties in the T20 line-up as well. However, it will be a choice between Karun Nair and Faiz Fazal for the opener’s slot. Nair got to open in two ODIs and while he got 39 in the second game, he didn’t exactly seem comfortable while left-hander Fazal looked elegant during his half-century in his debut international game.
But then Nair has been a consistent T20 player for both the suspended Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils in the IPL with a decent strike-rate of 122-plus over 64 games (IPL and domestic matches included). Fazal, on the other hand, has a strike-rate of over 105 in the shortest format and has not had an IPL contract since 2011. While Punjab-lad Mandeep will be eager to get his maiden senior cap, Dhoni, to be fair, would like to give Kedar Jadhav a hit as he did not even get a chance to bat in the three ODI matches that India won by 9, 8 and 10 wickets respectively. PTI
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