The Indian selectors recently announced the ODI and T20I squads for the limited overs leg of the South Africa series. While there were a couple of surprise inclusions, there were a few notable exclusions as well. The most impactful exclusion from India’s limited overs squads was that of all rounder Ravindra Jadeja. Jadeja had been in the good books of skipper MS Dhoni for a really long time. But then as a consequence of some damp performances from the Saurashtra lad, the selectors and Dhoni eventually ran out of patience and ignored the southpaw.
Playing against South Africa is a mighty challenge for any team. The premier reason behind that is the fact that the Proteas are a very good visiting side. Away conditions do not adversely affect the performance of the Proteas, as they do for a couple of other noteworthy teams. In 2014, the South Africans embarked on a tour of Sri Lanka, and ended up winning both, the test as well as the ODI series. Very few teams in the history of the game have successfully achieved such a feat.
The Indian ODI and T20I squads more or less portrayed the strength of the team, as a lot of weightage was given to the spinners. There were a few players, who can count themselves as unlucky after the squad was announced.
In this article, we have a look at the five players, who deserved to be in India’s squad for the South Africa series.
1. Kedar Jadhav:
Jadhav undoubtedly is the unluckiest individual in the Indian cricketing circles right now. The aggressive middle order batsman did everything he could in Zimbabwe, when he scored a fine ton in the third ODI. After scoring that ton, it was understood that Jadhav would be in the first string Indian squad, if not the starting XI. But the selectors completely ignored the Maharashtra batsman. Jadhav could have easily been taken at Ajinkya Rahane’s expense, who according to skipper MS Dhoni, “struggles to rotate the strike in ODI’s.” Jadhav can rotate the strike well, and can also play the extravagant shots. If Rahane is anyways supposed to just warm the benches, then why Jadhav couldn’t be tried even for the sake of a single game?
2. Robin Uthappa:
Uthappa is ideally suited for India’s plans for the upcoming T20 World Cup. He can bat very well, and is a more than a handy keeper. His exclusion from the T20I squad is agonizingly baffling and mind numbing. In Zimbabwe, Uthappa got off to decent starts in both the T20I’s. In fact, he was India’s leading run getter there. Despite doing well, the right hander has been given the cold shoulder. Uthappa himself said that he was preparing for the T20 World Cup next year. This decision from the Indian selectors can really cost the T20I side! Ignoring a player of Uthappa’s caliber in a format like T20I is never the right deal.
3. Rishi Dhawan:
One wonders what more does Rishi Dhawan needs to do to just be a part of India’s squad. After piling up some brilliant stats for himself in domestic cricket, Dhawan also performed for India A. In the recently concluded series against Bangladesh A, Dhawan played a crucial role with the bat as well as with the ball. His batting can be easily trusted and he can be an ideal fifth bowler for India. Against South Africa, his canny off cutters and seam bowling would have been quite handy.
4. Manish Pandey:
He played a highly matured innings in his debut match for India, when he bailed his side out of misery against Zimbabwe. As ironic as it may sound, that turned out to be his only ODI till date! After playing an innings of patience and determination, it was hoped that the selectors would give this talented batsman a series atleast. His knock of 71 against Zimbabwe was among the finest innings played by a batsman on debut. Post that game, he even scored a ton for India A against South Africa A. But as it turned out, it still wasn’t enough to earn him a place in the Indian squad.
5. Harbhajan Singh:
After a sensational comeback series in Zimbabwe, Harbhajan would have definitely enjoyed. But his happiness was short-lived as his name was missing from India’s ODI squad. Bhajji was selected for the T20I’s against South Africa, but he deserved to be in there for the ODI’s as well. Against Zimbabwe on tracks not too suitable for spinners, Harbhajan took 4 wickets in 3 games at an economy rate of 3.67. Rather, the selectors decided to opt for Amit Mishra, who last played an ODI a year ago.