Monday, February 11, 2013

Selection Review

I continue from where I left off in the earlier post, The Race Begins. Following is the squad I had predicted to represent India to start the series against Australia.

Sehwag, Rahane, Vijay, Pujara, Tendulkar, Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Tiwary, Dhoni, Jadeja, Ojha, Ashwin, B Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Shami Ahmed.

Of course, the prediction was done prior to the Irani Trophy match. At the same time, I did not believe that the outcome of Irani Trophy would tamper the squad too much. After the Irani Trophy, I felt Rohit Sharma would be better off to be replaced by Rayudu. By the way, I did watch the match in bits and pieces.

Following is the actual squad presented by the National Selectors for the first two tests against Australia.

Dhoni (capt.), Sehwag, Tendulkar, Kohli, Dhawan, Vijay, Rahane, Pujara, Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, B Kumar, Ashwin, Ojha, Dinda

It is time for a quick review. First things first, you feel good when your readings turn correct. Glad to see the ouster of Gambir turned right this time. Now, it remains to be seen, if Gambir and Sehwag will ever feature together in an International match for India (in the current regime). It is interesting to see that the selectors picked as many as four openers (Sehwag, Vijay, Dhawan and Rahane) in the squad. Obviously, having four openers in the squad is more than luxury. Mind you, the current selectors had already done this when they announced the squad featuring Sehwag, Gambir, Vijay and Rahane for the England series. Interestingly neither Vijay or Rahane played in any of four Tests, despite the duo of Sehwag and Gambir failed game after game. So, this time around, I guess, the selectors/team management picked Rahane as a middle order batsman or considering demoting Sehwag to the middle order so as new set of openers can be groomed with the future in mind. Considering, India’s conservative approach, I feel the latter is highly unlikely to happen and so Rahane is considered a better candidate for middle order over Tiwary or Rohit sharma.

The Surprises
Dhawan selection came in as a sweet surprise. If the logic of perceiving Sehwag or Rahane as a middle order batsman holds good, then Dhawan selection carries merit. Also there are only few contenders like Wasim Jaffer, Jeevanjot Singh, Abinav Mukund and Unmukt Chand in the circuit for opening slot. Mukund and Chand are way behind to run the race at this time, while Jaffer is already little old (35) to stage a comeback. Many argue Jaffer’s form for selection, but I feel India is in the state of transition and Jaffer selection will further slowdown the process. In other words, Jaffer selection can only be termed as an interim measure. Also for an opening batsman, you have to be on top of your reflexes as the ball will be at its best. So, Jaffer’s age should hurt him in this aspect especially when India travels abroad. It is for this same reason I also feel Gambir staging a comeback as an opening batsman in Test Cricket is out of picture. Also the selection of Dhawan gives the Team management to open the batting with left and right combination. By the way, I’m NOT backing Dhawan to debut in the first test. By all means, it should be Vijay and Sehwag (while my heart beats for Rahane and Sehwag). If that happens and Ravindra Jadeja is preferred for the balance of composition, it will be very harsh on Rahane. After all, Vijay is making his second come back since debut while Rahane is waiting in the wings for nearly 2 years to announce his arrival. By the way, I’ve no issues with Dhawan selection. However, Jeevanjoth Singh selection could have turned an inspirational one.

Dinda’s selection also surprised me. Once the trio of Shami Ahmed, Ishanth Sharma and B Kumar cemented their places in the limited overs game (in other words eliminated Dinda from the equation), it is a surprise to see Dinda preferred over Shami Ahmed. Also it baffled me when Mithun was picked over Shami Ahmed in the Irani Trophy match. Sometimes, it is better not to understand “why it happens, the way it happens” (in) Indian Cricket.

The Mother of Come Back
He was chopped from the squad for the final test against England. He is chosen for the first two Tests against Australia. This is what you call the mother of come back. I still fail to understand what Harbhajan Singh did in this interim period that demanded reinstating. However, I do understand the logic. Ashwin’s form with the ball is not too overwhelming. While the number of left hand batsman in the lineup coupled with Harbhajan’s record against Australia must have earned him the recall. If that is the case, should not Harbhajan Singh already on board with the squad that toured Australia??? Never mind.

By all means this squad (on form) is better than the one that played England. Also Australia is not a strong opponent compared to England. I will preview the series later. 

Bottom line: Selectors gain thumbs up for axing Gambir, otherwise there is nothing praise worthy.

Cricket Lover

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