Melbourne, Feb 6: Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni rested Virender Sehwag and included Rohit Sharma in the playing XI for the first ODI against Australia at Melbourne on Sunday.
Surprisingly, Sehwag was rested as Sachin and Gambhir opened the innings for India as the visitors were set a target of 217 to win by the Aussies in the first ODI, which the hosts won by 65 runs.
Dhoni's nightmare with away series seems to continue as India lost both the ODIs and the Tests in England, followed by Test series in Australia. Now, with one loss in the tri-series, it is diffcult to predict if India can emerge victorious in the tournament featuring Sri Lanka and Australia.
On Sunday, when Indian line-up was announced, it was indeed shocking to see Sehwag not finding a place in the playing XI. Looked like the Indian captain has made up his mind to take up some bold decisions in order to change the fortunes of his team.
Sehwag, on the other hand, had struck a world record 219 in the ODIs in his last ODI against West Indies, which was definitely a factor to play him in the ODIs, but Dhoni made it clear that he had to accomodate Rohit Sharma which forced him to keep Sehwag out of the playing XI.
"No. It's not about injury. In fact, quite a few other players have a few niggles. But we also wanted to make Rohit play. An experienced player can come and go out of the side but for Rohit it may be tough for if he doesn't get a match before the second half of the series, you could find him playing in the tougher later half without much practice. It's a long series and we have to take that into account," Dhoni said.
Infact, it wasn't only Sehwag, pace spearhead Zaheer Khan too was rested for the first ODI, which was later clarified by Dhoni. He said Zaheer had a problem. "I don't remember but it is with his right or left knee, but he will be fit for later games," he said after India's loss to Australia by 65 runs.
With issues with Zaheer's fitness, Dhoni decided to go with Vinay Kumar and Praveen Kumar and also gambled with the spin attack including 3 spinners - R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Rahul Sharma.
Though the move to include Rohit Sharma needs to be appreciated, there are plenty of other issues that Dhoni needs to think about and come up with a solution like playing three spinners was not the order of the day while Umesh Yadav who bowled well in the Melbourne Test was available, he wasn't preferred. This is just a beginning, Dhoni definitely needs to take more bold decisions in order to create a turnaround.