Young all-rounder Parveez Rasool today created history by becoming the first cricketer from Jammu and Kashmir to be named in the Indian team as the selectors opted to rest captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and four other key players for the upcoming ODI tour of Zimbabwe.
The 24-year-old Rasool, who has been in contention for national selection for a while now after a string of impressive performances, got the nod in the 15-member squad with the selectors preferring to go in with a young team for the five-match ODI series, to be held from July 24 to August 3 at Harare and Bulawayo.
Prolific batsman Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane were also recalled in the squad to be led by young Virat Kohli who is currently captaining the team in the West Indies following a hamstring injury to Dhoni.
Saurashtra pacer Jaydev Unadkat staged a comeback while Haryana speedster Mohit Sharma, who made an impression in the IPL-6 for Chennai Super Kings, was rewarded with his maiden call-up in the senior team announced by BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel after a meeting of the selection committee here.
Mohit, who has played 11 first-class matches and taken 44 wickets over two seasons, had an impressive season for Chennai Super Kings in IPL 2013. He picked up 20 wickets in 15 matches to emerge as one of the leading uncapped players of the tournament.
Apart from Dhoni, pacemen Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and spinner Ravichandran Aswhin were also rested while opener Murali Vijay was dropped from the team.
The selectors also decided to ignore veterans like Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar and Yuvraj Singh.
"The team for Zimbabwe has been selected and we wanted to go in with a young side," Patel said when asked about the likes of Gambhir and other seniors.
The team has seven specialist batsmen, three spinners and four fast bowlers and one wicketkeeper-batsman in Dinesh Karthik.
With Vijay dropped, the opening combination of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma is likely to be persisted with while the middle-order will comprise Kohli, Pujara, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu and Ajinkya Rahane.
The decision to rest Ashwin paved the way for Rasool's selection in the senior team since he is also an off-spinner who has earned praise from the legendary Bishan Singh Bedi, who has coached Jammu & Kashmir in the past season.
Rasool, who was once arrested in Bangalore for allegedly carrying explosives before being released, made headlines after being named in the India A squad for the warm-up matches against England and Australia in late 2012 and early this year.
Although he did not make much of an impact against England, Rasool returned impressive figures of 7/45 against the Aussies in February. In that particular match he was also the second highest scorer for his team with 36.
The all-rounder cashed in on the opportunity to become the first cricketer from the valley to bag an IPL contract when he was signed by Pune Warriors India ahead of the sixth edition of the cash-rich T20 league. He took 46 wickets in 17 first-class matches and 1003 runs at an average of 38.57.
The selectors also picked the India ‘A’ team for the tour of South Africa, which will be captained by Pujara.
The India ‘A’ team also includes Rasool and a number of other youngsters like Shahbaz Nadeem, Siddharth Kaul, Wriddhiman Saha, Ishwar Pandey and Stuart Binny.
The team also has some senior players like Dhawan, Vijay, Raina, Rohit Sharma, Rahane, Rayudu and Karthik.
The India ‘A’ team is scheduled to play a tri-series against Australia ‘A’ and South Africa ‘A’ and two four-day games on the tour.
Indian team for Zimbabwe: Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Cheteshwar Pujara, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Parveez Rasool, Mohammed Shami, Vinay Kumar, Jaidev Unadkat, Mohit Sharma.
India ‘A’ team for tour of South Africa: Cheteshwar Pujara (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha, Parvez Rasool, Shahbaz Nadeem, , Mohammed Shami, Stuart Binny, Ishwar Chand Pandey, Jaidev Unadkat, Siddharth Kaul.