Dhoni rested; Gambhir to lead in ODIs

 Dhoni had on Friday stressed the need for time away from the game to ‘switch on and switch off’ as well as shake off niggles, and the selectors, who met here on Saturday night, acceded to the Jharkhandi’s request as they picked a 14-man squad for the first two matches.

It’s the first time since June, when India travelled to Zimbabwe for a tri-series with a less-than-full strength squad skippered by Suresh Raina, that Dhoni has got time off from competitive cricket.

Gambhir led Delhi to the Ranji Trophy title in early 2008 and also led the Delhi Daredevils team in IPL III. His elevation to the captaincy is somewhat of a surprise, but has been necessitated because of the absence of several senior players in the squad announced for the first two games.

Karnataka paceman R Vinay Kumar keeps his place in the limited-overs squad but shockingly, there is no place in the squad for the Test series in South Africa for Abhimanyu Mithun, the strapping quick who impressed on debut in Sri Lanka. Instead, the selectors have opted to place their faith in Vidarbha paceman Umesh Yadav in the 17-member party that otherwise has few surprises.

There are no indications if some of the players will leave early for South Africa to get used to the conditions there. The first Test in Centurion begins on December 16, just days after the final one-dayer against New Zealand in Chennai on December 10. The one-day series kicks off in Guwahati next Sunday.

Team for first two one-dayers: Gautam Gambhir (capt), Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Saurabh Tiwary, Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, R Vinay Kumar, Munaf Patel, S Sreesanth, Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja.

Team for Tests in SA: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Virender Sehwag (voce-capt), Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar VVS Laxman, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, S Sreesanth, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Wriddhiman Saha, Jaidev Unadkat, Umesh Yadav, Pragyan Ojha.

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