After having been dropped for the second and third ODIs against Bangladesh, Ajinkya Rahane was picked to captain the side touring Zimbabwe. The tough taskmaster that Rahane is, he felt as a captain, he did not want to influence team selection and therefore dropped himself from the team that will play Zimbabwe in three ODIs and two T20s. "After being dropped, I have not proved myself by scoring runs - I am not convinced of my own form. In the interests of the team, I will first like to score runs and then return to the side." When asked how he hoped to achieve this by not playing against Zimbabwe, Rahane nodded understandably saying, "I know, it isn't easy to make a comeback but the same standards should be there for the captain and the players." It is learnt Rahane hopes to play some university cricket in Zimbabwe.
Regular ODI captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was visibly upset on learning of Rahane's decision to not pick himself and almost regretted dropping him - "If I knew he would be so harsh on himself, I would never have dropped him... I would have made him my deputy, at least Jinks doesn't seem like a guy who will speak against my decision making."
The inseparable duo of Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli will both not make the trip. It is unclear who asked to be excused first, but Shastri had prior commitments with Sky Sports for the Ashes, and Virat Kohli had signed up for a two-week Vipassana meditation retreat in Kerala. This could be Virat's toughest examination thus far as it will entail two weeks of silence. A source close to the player said Virat wants to fight his urge to spill to the press.
Harbhajan Singh's return to the side is once again being credited with Dhoni's absence. Even though the player said he would love to play with his former teammate, and Dhoni was unavailable for comment, it is widely believed that the volatile bowler had threatened to slap the skipper and himself, if Dhoni didn't join him for a Punjabi duet.
Suresh Raina asked to be rested for the series as he was busy house-hunting for a larger accommodation - "Now that I'm married my bachelor pad won't be big enough, if you know any good real estate guys, do let them know (wink wink nudge nudge)". As for a visibly upset Jadeja, he has been dropped and not rested. "After they made Rahane captain, I felt the least the selectors could do is make me his deputy... this is a clear case of double standards. Also if you look at the scores of the first ODI against Bangladesh, Rahane made only 9 while I scored 32 and don't they always say a batsman is as good as his last innings??"
Shikhar Dhawan hopes to take the time out by bonding with his baby son over tattoos - "Even though there is no moustache in sight, I thought there should be something that makes me feel like he's my buddy... my son... a tattoo of a moustache seemed like a good idea."
Ravichandran Ashwin, who only recently claimed he could die for Dhoni, explained that once he learnt that Dhoni was not travelling to Zimbabwe, he too decided to call it off. "I don't know if I can die for Rahane," he offered as an explanation. When informed that Rahane too was resting himself, he seemed bemused - "Maybe Rahane can't die for Rahane?"
(However plausible this might sound, this is a work of fiction.)
First published here