Sri Lanka v India ODIs
Veterans in focus for India ODI squad
Selectors flush with batting options as media reports suggest Suresh Raina could make a return
12 August 2017, 07:00 PM AEST
Suresh Raina is rumoured to be in line for a recall to India's ODI squad as selectors ponder the future of veterans MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh following their defeat in the Champions Trophy final in June.
Selectors are set to meet this week to name the squad for their five-match ODI series against Sri Lanka, which begins on August 20 after the current third Test in Pallekele.
The Indians will then host Australia for a series of limited-overs matches in September and October.
High on the agenda will be what to do with Dhoni (36) and Yuvraj (35) as India look ahead to the 2019 World Cup in the UK, especially given selectors are seemingly flush with options in terms of top- and middle-order batsmen.
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli, the batting stars of the Champions Trophy, are certainties to fill the top three spots, unless they are rested.
But that's where things get complicated.
Dhoni, Yuvraj, Rishabh Pant, Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik and Kedar Jadhav were all picked for one or both of India's past two ODI campaigns, while KL Rahul and Manish Pandey are both back to full fitness and have been in red-hot form at either Test or India A level in recent weeks.
Raina, meanwhile, hasn't played since the Indian Premier League but has been training with the likes of Dhoni at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore.
— Suresh Raina (@ImRaina) August 11, 2017
And according to an Indian media report, the 30-year-old is in the frame for a return despite playing the most recent of his 223 ODIs almost two years ago.
"Raina's an impact player, who can help us win games with his big-hitting down the order," an unnamed source was reported as saying by The Times of India.
"Since we have a heavy limited-overs schedule later this season, we need to play him now.
"He could be a key player for us in the 2019 World Cup."
Whichever way selectors decide to go, Kohli made it patently clear this week that he doesn't want to be rested.
"My participation? Who said I am not playing?" a bemused Kohli said when asked about his participation in the ODI series.
"I don't know where this came from ... if you don't want me to play, then tell me ... I have no problems in playing."
There is intrigue, too, surrounding India's spin options. Wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav impressed in playing all five matches against the West Indies in June and July, while Test stars Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja - India's main spin options at the Champions Trophy - played just three and two games respectively against the Windies.
Fast bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah are all expected to feature while allrounder Hardik Pandya, who made his Test debut last month, has established himself as a key player in Kohli's XI.