India captain MS Dhoni. (AP Photo)
The upcoming tour of Zimbabwe will be the fifth that India will play without MS Dhoni since he took over as full-time captain in all three formats in 2008.
India's packed schedule in recent years, with the IPL thrown in, has compelled Dhoni to prioritise and take adequate rest before important tours, and after non-stop cricket since December 2011, Dhoni was given a break by the BCCI for this low-key series.
In 2010, he was given a break for a triangular tournament in Zimbabwe, with Suresh Raina given the leadership of a weakened side. India lost to Zimbabwe twice in that series and failed to reach the final. Either side of the 2011 World Cup, he sat out bilateral ODI series against New Zealand at home and West Indies away. For the series against New Zealand, India were led by Gautam Gambhir and in the West Indies in the summer of 2011, it was Raina who led an inexperienced side missing Virender Sehwag, Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh. Under Gambhir, India blanked New Zealand 5-0 and under Raina they won 3-2 in the Caribbean. In November 2011, Dhoni was rested for a five-ODI series at home against West Indies. Under Sehwag, India won the series 4-1.
Dhoni has been reluctant to miss ODI matches despite his heavy workload as wicketkeeper and captain of India and Chennai Super Kings. India have a very busy schedule from the time Australia arrive in October for seven ODIs and a Twenty20 international. Following that limited-overs series, India tour South Africa for two T20Is, seven ODIs and three Tests. That is followed by a trip to New Zealand, then the IPL and a visit to England.
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