Also, the event would be a test for India’s bench strength, so to say as the selectors have chosen to rest a few seniors including maestro Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir and Harbhajan Singh.
The Indian bowling attack struggled in the Tests against Sri Lanka and sorely missed the services of Zaheer Khan (out with injury). Ishant Sharma and Abhimanyu Mithun strove manfully in the longer version and will be happy to welcome Aasish Nehra and Praveen Kumar into the squad. It is an opportunity for Ishant to reassert his usefulness to the ODI side after he fell off the radar in recent times with mediocre performances.
On the other hand, it must be seen what spin combination India opts for in the tri-sereis. Pragyan Ojha had a good Test at the P Sara Oval, but with Ravindra Jadeja in the team and making the XI for his all-round skills, Dhoni will have to decide whether to go with two left-arm spinners (in addition to the part-time bowling of Yuvraj) or to give Tamilnadu offspinner R Ashwin a chance.
On the batting front, a lot will depend on Virender Sehwag again as he would have the responsibility of providing the sort of blazing starts that India have come to expect of him and in Gambhir’s absence, Dinesh
Karthik will open the innings. The dapper Tamilnadu ‘keeper-batsman, who shone in the Asia Cup final, gets another opportunity to press his claim for a permanent slot in the line-up.
A rather volatile mix of batsmen occupy the middle-order in Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, who made a superb start to his Test career, and Rohit Sharma, who can be destructive when on song but can be unpredictable too.
Also, it is a chance for Yuvraj Singh to get over the disappointment of the Test series, in which he failed in the opening match and missed the rest of the matches due to flu and had to sit out the third after Raina’s heady debut.
The Punjab southpaw who was dropped for the Asia Cup will be eager to stamp his class and show the selectors that he can be a key member in the country’s World Cup plans.
In the absence of match-winners, such as skipper Vettori, Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder, New Zealand will be trying to make sure that the players get a feel of conditions in the subcontinent. The Kiwi skipper Taylor will be hoping to catch the two sides coming off a Test series off guard but would be aware that his men face a tough task against the Indians and the hosts at full strength.
Sri Lanka, which is fielding a strong side unlike India will be hoping to erase the memories of the Asia Cup loss (to MSD’s team) and Kumar Sangakkara leads a formidable unit, which will however be missing the services of the rested spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan.
Indian team: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik, R Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Abhimanyu Mithun, Ashish Nehra, Pragyan Ojha, Saurabh Tiwary.