The first impression of the Indian squad, as soon as the names came through the internet, was that the Indian selectors had opted to field a dad’s army for the ODIs and T20Is against England. There were just a handful of youngsters amidst a sea of veterans, for what are essentially formats of cricket ideally suited for young legs.
On further deciphering the workings of the current national selection committee – probably on its last assignment before the Lodha-reset, fresh BCCI takes over – it is obvious that they have banked heavily on experience.
The selectors obviously want to prime the team for the multi-nation Champions Trophy to be held in England from 1 to 18 June and believe that the forthcoming series of ODIs and T20Is could be their last chance to really test the sharpness and mettle of the veterans.
Nevertheless, the inclusion of left arm pacer Ashish Nehra, who is short of 40 years of age, is a shocker. The Delhi fast bowler has played very little cricket for quite some months now and his recall for the T20s is nothing short of a poor commentary of the fast bowling resources of India.
At the best of times, Nehra was not a good fielder or batsman and he could not have gotten any better by not playing good, competitive cricket for months together.
At least Yuvraj Singh has been in fine nick in domestic cricket this season and his string of good scores augur well for him and the team. He brings a lot of punch to the batting order that is expected to revel through KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, skipper Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Manish Pandey.
Obviously the team needs muscle in the middle order to take advantage of the field restrictions and has thus packed it with big hitters. The fact that South Africa clobbered the attack for 438 for 4 in 50 overs in Mumbai last season is still fresh in memory. India will hope that Yuvraj and company can give that sort of thrust to their line-up in the forthcoming matches.
Yuvraj is a good timer of the ball and his powerful hitting could come in handy on the small outfields in India and England. Hopefully, he will find some sort of form in international matches too.
It is confounding that the selectors have opted to include Ajinkya Rahane and Hardik Pandya, both of whom are coming off injuries. Their earlier stated policy was that injured players would have to prove their match fitness by playing domestic cricket. Rahane was not fit to play the Ranji Trophy semifinal against Tamil Nadu, yet finds a place in the national team?
The same could be said of Nehra and Suresh Raina. Perhaps there are different rules for different folks. Karun Nair’s suspected hernia (subsequently tested negative) is probably the only reason the rising star was kept out of the team, thus allowing Raina to be squeezed in.
Meanwhile, the selection of Rishab Pant, Yuzvendra Chahal and Mandeep Singh in the T20 team needs to be welcomed. The team needs good young players to complement Kohli, Rahul and others.
Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar are the common factors in the pace department. Bhuvi had a nightmare of a match against South Africa when he was clobbered for 106 runs in his quota of overs. But he needs to be nurtured in the hope that he’d get his confidence back. He would also come in handy on English pitches later this year.
The selectors have handed over the limited overs reins also to Kohli, as was to be expected. Kohli would probably find the batting, rather than the bowling to be the strong suit of the team. Hopefully that should count for a lot in the coming days.
The team for ODIs:
KL Rahul, Shikar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), MS Dhoni, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkye Rahane, Hardik Pandya, R Ashwin, Ravinder Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav
The Team for T20Is:
Virat Kohli (Capt), MS Dhoni (wk), Mandeep Singh, KL Rahul, Yuvraj Singh , Suresh Raina, Rishabh Pant , Hardik Pandya, R Ashwin, Ravinder Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal,Manish Pandey, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Aashish Nehra
Updated Date: Jan 07, 2017 09:27 AM