Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday was named India's new cricket captain for upcoming one-day home series against formidable sides Australia and Pakistan as the selectors looked to the future.
"The selectors have appointed Dhoni as captain for one-day series against Australia and Pakistan," Indian cricket board secretary Niranjan Shah told reporters in Mumbai.
India will figure in 12 one-dayers at home, seven against Australia, starting this month, and five against Pakistan in November.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Dhoni, 26, took the high-profile but high-pressure job after strong contender Sachin Tendulkar reportedly opted out of the one-day captaincy race.
The 34-year-old Tendulkar, the world's leading scorer in the shorter version of the game with 15,425 runs in 395 matches, has admitted to finding successive one-day games too tiring of late.
The appointment opened the way to a split captaincy for the first time in Indian cricket, with Tendulkar likely to lead in Tests and Dhoni in one-dayers in the coming busy international season.
Dhoni has spent barely three years in big-time cricket, but has impressed with his breathtaking strokeplay and sound temperament. He is already in charge at the ongoing Twenty20 World Championships in South Africa.
Tendulkar has twice led India in the past decade, his last stint coming to an end in 2000 after losing a two-Test home series against South Africa.
The selectors now have some time to pick a Test captain before India start their next series in November against Pakistan. India then tour Australia in December for a Test series.
The selectors were forced to find a new skipper after Rahul Dravid surprisingly ended his two-year stint last week, saying he was no longer enjoying the job and wanted to concentrate on his batting.
Dhoni's first big test comes when India open their one-day series against Australia with a day-night game at Bangalore on September 29.
He has so far scored 2,477 runs in one-dayers and 1,019 runs in 20 Tests since making his international debut in December 2004.
"We thought it was the best way to go and it's the right time to groom him," said Indian chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar.
The selectors also named a 15-man squad for the first three one-dayers against Australia, with fast bowlers Irfan Pathan and Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, and spinner Harbhajan Singh returning to the fold.
Left-arm seamer Pathan comes back after nine months, while off-spinner Harbhajan has not played for the country since the World Cup in the Caribbean earlier this year.
There was no place in the squad for hard-hitting opener Virender Sehwag, who played his last one-dayer in May.
"Irfan and Harbhajan both have done well in the ongoing Twenty20 World Championships in South Africa and they deserve it," said Vengsarkar.
India squad for first three one-dayers against Australia:
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Yuvraj Singh, Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Dinesh Karthik, Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Irfan Pathan, Ramesh Powar, Piyush Chawla, Rudra Pratap Singh, Zaheer Khan, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Harbhajan Singh.