India won the World Cup! If it was M S Dhoni’s 91 that had the headlines, it was Gautam Gambhir’s 97 that set the platform from where the skipper could take things forward. And what about Yuvraj Singh? Before the cup began, his form was questionable, but I maintained my stance that if India has any chance to lift the cup in home conditions, then Yuvraj has to come good. He didn’t just come good, he was the man-of-the-tournament.

  Did we ever imagine that two years later, when India is set for the next biggest ODI competition, we would see Gambir and Yuvraj out of the team? Cricket can be thankless, isn’t it? Gambhir has looked good in patches for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL. Both Gambhir and Yuvraj have looked more than decent in the Vijay Hazare and the Deodhar trophy, they are proven performers, and with what they have achieved with Team India, they deserve better.   The coming good of Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar at the top in the late 90’s has been one of the major reasons, the Indian batting came strong in the ODIs. 300, the monument figure came more often and there hasn’t been looking back since then. Gambhir has successfully carried on Ganguly’s good role, be it at the top or at number three. His recent form has been questionable but a proven player should not be judged by the failures in a handful of games. The way Gambhir has batted in the IPL, a big score is around the corner. The good thing is that he is batting well but hasn’t scored galore. If selectors have gone by purely IPL runs, then why has Murli Vijay made it to the squad? Baffling selection because Gambhir is the guy who is extremely serious in his approach and absorbs pressure better than the most. Be it the Twenty20 World Championship final in 2007, or the World Cup final in 2011 or saving the Napier Test match in 2009, Gambhir has been the steady force. Even given a choice between Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane, I would have chosen the latter because he has had the experience of playing in England in 2011, where he has looked quite comfortable.   Yuvraj hasn’t looked good in the IPL, but not long back he was in brilliant form for North Zone in the Deodhar Trophy. It would still be an understatement to say Yuvraj is a colossus in the India’s limited overs cricket firmament and will go down as one of the ODI greats. Apart from Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dhoni; Yuvraj has made the most impact in this format for India. He loves the format, knows to construct and hold the innings, can be a nemesis to even the best of death bowling, can bowl and field. With the tournament scheduled in England, his bowling wouldn’t be missed and especially now with Ravindra Jadeja around but Yuvraj is certainly the kind of player you want in your dressing room. Not long back, he was seriously ill, he fought back with courage and determination; and he shouldn’t have been judged so soon. He should have been given the time to settle in and the more matches he plays, the better he would get.   Rohit Sharma, the epitome of talent has got the nod ahead of Yuvraj. He has had a good domestic season and is setting things on fire for Mumbai Indians at the moment. No doubt, he is a class act and has all ingredients to succeed at the highest level but how often have we seen him being punished for his perennial underachievement? We have seen the likes of Manoj Tiwary and Cheteshwar Pujara warm benches while Rohit has played close to 90 ODIs. Tiwary and Pujara, both recovering from injuries would have still missed the bus even if they had been fit. If the 2015 World Cup has been kept in mind in the selection of Champions Trophy squad, Gambhir and Yuvraj both can still contribute. They will be only 33 at that time, and it’s an age when many batters are at their peak. All they can do now performs in the domestic competitions and wait for the right senses to prevail.   However I welcome the selection of Dinesh Karthik. He fills the spot of a specialist batsman and being a wicketkeeper it frees up an extra spot. He has been impressive and has made the IPL and the domestic season count. I am looking forward to see him open the innings with Sikhar Dhawan, the other selection that I welcome. It will however be interesting to see how Dhawan plays in conditions where the ball is doing a bit too much. Talking of the moving ball, I think India’s bowling looks good. In Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Irfan Pathan and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, they have a good mix of swing and seam. I doubt the role Vinay Kumar will play here. I was quite stunned when I saw him make his Test debut in Perth and it is surprising that time and again he has walked into the team with ease. He has added a lot of value to his IPL team but given a choice, I would have gone with the young Shami Ahmed or for that matter even a Praveen Kumar. Also with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja around, Amit Mishra’s chances of getting to play are bleak.   Investing in youth is good, but not being biased. The current lot of selectors has taken some bold steps but I wish the selection parameters were same for all      Indian Squad for Champions Trophy in England and Wales MS Dhoni (c) (wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik (wk), M Vijay, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Irfan Pathan, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra, Vinay Kumar