As the Indian selectors announced the side’s squad for the three-match ODI series against New Zealand, there were a few surprises in store. The three-match ODI affair might not add a lot of value to the table for India, but it does bring an opportunity for a lot of individuals to prove their calibre in the lead up to the 2019 World Cup in England.
Annihilating Australia 4-1 was undoubtedly a stupendous feat for the Virat Kohli-led outfit as the Indians were utterly dominant in all aspects of the game across the series. New Zealand as a side has its set of pros and cons and if recent form in the ICC Champions Trophy is to go by, the Kiwis look far from an in-form team.
However, India cannot take them lightly by any means as barely 12 months ago; the Kane Williamson led side gave India a run for its money in the five-match ODI series, which was also the last ODI series for MS Dhoni as captain.
With the squad announcement springing up a few surprises, below we have a look at the five big names who missed out on the ODI series.
- R. Ashwin:
Ashwin might have looked off-colour in the ICC Champions Trophy, but just one tournament by no means can deter his class as a champion off-spinner. Barring the couple of games he played in the Caribbean, Ashwin has now become a regular absentee from India’s limited overs squads. The emergence of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal has provided no opening for Ashwin to sneak his way into the team. That being said, plainly writing off an off-spinner who has 150 ODI wickets to his name will be a colossal blunder. Given his credentials as a handy batsman lower down the order, Ashwin deserved a go against New Zealand.
- Ravindra Jadeja:
Despite being in the squad as a replacement for Axar Patel in the first three ODI’s against Australia, Jadeja was soon dropped and remains ignored for the New Zealand series. Ironically, the day the squad was named, the all-rounder scored a fine ton in his state side’s ongoing Ranji Trophy tie. Like Ashwin, Jadeja has been an immense contributor to the success of the Indian ODI team in the past and the way he is being written off at present; it’s merely disheartening. One can agree that he has been below par in this format since the 2015 World Cup, but then how many series’ has he played in succession to give us a fair idea about what he has to offer?
- Umesh Yadav:
Umesh Yadav’s exclusion from the ODI setup is a massive joke in itself. How on earth can you justify the axing of a bowler who took four wickets in the only game of the previous series he featured? Yadav took a four-wicket haul against Australia at Bangalore and was overlooked for the next game without any reason. Last year as well, Umesh was simply superb against New Zealand being frequently among the wickets. The selectors have blindly written him off for the three-match assignment and instead opted for Shardul Thakur. To see a genuine wicket taker like Umesh Yadav not even being a part of the squad is utterly perplexing. Just imagine how treacherous must the pacer be feeling after he was overlooked for the series despite picking up four wickets in is the previous outing in coloured clothing?
- Mohammad Shami:
For a decent couple of years, Mohammad Shami was easily among the top pacers in limited overs cricket, if not the best. He took wickets whenever the team needed and remained his skipper’s most trusted aid in times of contingencies. Suddenly post his injury and comeback, Shami wasn’t treated as the pacer he was before that knee surgery. Virat Kohli as the captain didn’t display a lot of confidence in Shami and the selectors too reflect on similar lines. Having picked up 91 wickets in just the matter of 50 ODI’s, India has missed a trick by not having Shami around.
- KL Rahul:
Undoubtedly the biggest setback was the exclusion of KL Rahul from the squad. To add to the confusion, the think tank was happy to recall an ageing Dinesh Karthik into the scheme of things rather than looking outwards towards someone as talented as Shreyas Iyer. Coming back to Rahul, his exclusion is bizarre. Yes, he got three innings in Sri Lanka and didn’t make it count, but then those weren’t the easiest of pitches to bat on. Adding to that, he was batting at a position where he hasn’t so far in his List A career. Then in the Australia series, he warmed the benches across the ODI and T20I series and now is suddenly dropped? How can one probably justify this decision? More importantly, how can the selectors judge Rahul if he isn’t even given an entire series to showcase on what he has to offer?