The much anticipated Indian squad to tour Australia has been announced yesterday and the selectors have did some fine job in certain areas and failed to live up to the expectations in some. Here is a detailed report on how the selection committee led by Sandeep Patil fared while picking the 19 men squad to tour Australia for the four match Test series that begins on December 4.
First of all take a look at the Squad before we get an insight to it:
Squad: MS Dhoni (captain), Virat Kohli (VC), Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav, Karn Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha and Naman Ojha.
*Virat Kohli will lead in the first test match
**Naman Ojha has been included for the first test alone
Regular skipper MS Dhoni has injured his forearm, which rules him out of the first Test match at Brisbane. In his absence, Virat Kohli will lead India at The Gabba.
KL Rahul has been awarded with some consistent performances in the last few months.
The first question on most of the cricket fans’ mind is
Why is Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan not included in the squad?
These mentioned five players are proven matches for India in the past and Sehwag, in particular has inserted the fear factor into the Aussie bowlers in their own backyard. Australia has been the favourite opposition for Harbhajan Singh who has troubled them in the past. But, currently, none of them are in good form as they are failing to score runs in the domestic circuit and prove the selectors that they are capable of making it to the side. Zaheer Khan hasn’t bowled a ball since the shoulder injury he sustained during the IPL in April this year. Going for a grudge series down under, it won’t do justice to the team if the selectors had picked these players in the side.
Remarks: A reasonable call by the selectors
Selection of four wicket-keepers in the squad
Having said that MS Dhoni won’t be available for the first match due to a forearm injury, the selectors have picked an extra wicket-keeper in the squad. Bengal keeper Wriddhiman Saha has been chosen as MS Dhoni’s back-up and Madhya Pradesh’s Naman Ojha has been named in the side only for the first Test as Saha’s back-up. The squad has four wicket-keepers (3 frontline keeps+ KL Rahul). KL Rahul is a wicket-keeper but he is playing as a specialist batsman for Karnataka as they got the services of CM Gautam behind the wickets. In case if Saha gets injured ahead of the first Test, KL Rahul might cover him up in the team and it is not a convincing move by the selectors to include Ojha only for the first match. If they wanted 19 members, the selectors could have gone for an extra batsmen.
Remarks: Not convincing enough
Selection of three spinners
It is very rare, might be termed impossible too for a team touring Australia to carry three spinners in the squad. The selectors have picked up three spinners in the squad which includes R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Karn Sharma. These three are not considered as spinners but also as All-Rounders who bring balance to the side. It is certain that only one among them will play in the matches. Even if the selectors wanted three spinners, they could have gone for Akshar Patel, who is quite impressive in the recent times and is pushing hard for a spot in the World Cup. One first choice spinner and a back-up for him would have been enough when a team tours Australia. In place of the third spinner, the selectors could have included the name of another pacer who can be helpful in rotating the squad as the World Cup would be just a month away from then. Choosing three spinners to play in Australia can never be accepted.
Taking Five Pacers
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron comprising the pace department is one of the master stroke by the selectors. But they could have included an extra pacer ahead of the third spinner in the side. As these five bowlers are certain to make it to the World Cup, it won’t be a bad decision if the team management shuffles and rotates them cross the four matches. In all likelihood, India will play four pacers and a spinner in Australia as Bhuvneshwar and Ashwin contributes with the bat more than the batsmen does. One more pacer in the squad would have made the pace bowling department complete and would have helped the management to rotate the bowlers.
Remarks: Good Choice. Could have been better if they included an extra pacer for a spinner.
Selection of Suresh Raina
Suresh Raina would be in the first three names of the team sheet when India plays an ODI. But the same can’t be said for test matches where Raina’s track record as a batsman is poor. Adding to that, the Australian wickets tend to seem and bounce more, which is Raina’s weakness. If he is chosen in the XI, he is set to have a bad time against Mitchell Johnson and co. It is quite clear that he is chosen for the tour to get used to the conditions ahead of the World Cup. If India go in with four pacers and a spinner, it is clear that neither Rohit Sharma nor Suresh Raina will make it to the playing XI.
Remarks: A move called with the World Cup in mind.
The likes of Robin Uthappa, who is knocking on the doors of the selectors for a long time, Manish Pandey, who is in tremendous form with the bat off-late and Akshar Patel, who is pushing hard for a World Cup spot could have been selected in the squad.
Possible Playing XI:
Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron/ Rohit Sharma.
MS Dhoni, if fit, will replace Saha after the first Test match. If India decides to go in with three pacers, Rohit Sharma might get a look in or Varun Aaron will make through to the squad.
Featured Image Courtesy: India.com