MS Dhoni India
MS Dhoni will hope a few India superstars are born on this tour of Zimbabwe. Pictured: Dhoni in action during the World T20 semifinal against the West Indies, March 31, 2016.IANS

MS Dhoni's India embark on a let's-give-the-youngsters-and-fringe-players-a-chance tour of Zimbabwe, with the World T20 semifinalists playing three ODIs and three T20Is against the African nation. While Dhoni is there as the captain, the spotlight in this series will be on the youngsters and yet-to-win-an-India-cap players, of which there are plenty.

India had a similar tour of Zimbabwe last year, and while some of the players made an impact there, with Ajinkya Rahane cutting his teeth as an international captain as well, in the end, it did not quite work out for the fringe players, with very few making an impact after that.

This time, the BCCI have decided to reward cricketers who have impressed on the domestic circuit as well as the IPL, and with a permanent captain in Dhoni at the helm, it will be interesting to see how they go.

Hopefully, while winning all six matches in Zimbabwe is important, Dhoni does not stick with his usual no-need-to-change-a-winning-team plan, because, at the end of the day, this tour is about identifying which of the players have a future career in international cricket.

So, the likes of Karun Nair, Jayant Yadav, Mandeep Singh, Faiz Fazal, Yuzvendra Chahal and more will hope to make an impression, be that with bat or ball.

This will also be an important tour for Dhoni, who decided to play the series in a bid to get the best out of the young players that have been picked. The skipper will also want to shut out all the naysayers, who are calling for him to make way for Virat Kohli to captain India in all forms of cricket.

Zimbabwe cricket, apart from knowing that with India coming, there will be plenty of much-needed cash coming in as well, will want to make full use of one of the heavyweights of world cricket playing in their backyard. The Zimbabweans disappointed in the World T20, failing to make it to the main round of the tournament, and they will have a point or two to prove in the six matches.

While a series win, in either the ODIs or T20Is, looks improbable, winning a match or two will give them the confidence to go forward and build a team that can complete with the big boys, much like they used to in the late 1990s and early noughties.

Zimbabwe, though, will have to recalibrate quickly, considering their captain Hamilton Masakadza has been relieved of his position, while the coach Dav Whatmore was let go. Graeme Cremer has been named the captain and Makhaya Ntini will coach the Zimbabwe team for this India series, with help from his former South Africa teammate Lance Klusener. How the new guard goes will be interesting to observe.

A normal, ok-let's-just-give-it-a-glance-every-now-and-then series it might seem on the outside, but for the people involved, especially the young Indian cricketers, this might just be the springboard they need to soar into that first team and rub shoulders constantly on the international circuit with the Virat Kohlis, Rohit Sharmas and R Ashwins.

India vs Zimbabwe schedule: ODI series:

1st ODI: India vs Zimbabwe.

Date: Saturday, June 11.

Time: 9 am local time (12.30 p.m. IST, 8 a.m. BST, 3 a.m. ET).

Venue: Harare Sports Club.

2nd ODI: India vs Zimbabwe.

Date: Monday, June 13.

Time: 9 am local time (12.30 p.m. IST, 8 a.m. BST, 3 a.m. ET).

Venue: Harare Sports Club.

3rd ODI: India vs Zimbabwe.

Date: Wednesday, June 15.

Time: 9 am local time (12.30 p.m. IST, 8 a.m. BST, 3 a.m. ET).

Venue: Harare Sports Club.

T20 series: 1st T20: India vs Zimbabwe.

Date: Saturday, June 18.

Time: 1 p.m. local time (4.30 p.m. IST, 12 p.m. BST, 7 a.m. ET).

Venue: Harare Sports Club.

2nd T20: India vs Zimbabwe.

Date: Monday, June 20.

Time: Time: 1 p.m. local time (4.30 p.m. IST, 12 p.m. BST, 7 a.m. ET).

Venue: Harare Sports Club.

3rd T20: India vs Zimbabwe.

Date: Wednesday, June 22.

Time: Time: 1 p.m. local time (4.30 p.m. IST, 12 p.m. BST, 7 a.m. ET).

Venue: Harare Sports Club.

TV listings: India: Ten 3 and Ten 1 HD. USA and Canada: Willow TV. Zimbabwe: TSM.

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