The selectors on Wednesday announced the 17-member squad for the upcoming ODI series and the one off T20 international match which is going to be held in Sri Lanka, later this month. Irfan Pathan was not considered for the selection because of his dispossessed bowling performance in Australia as well as in the IPL tournament. Regardless of having a superb bowling record against Sri Lanka, Irfan was not considered for the selection and has been dropped from the squad for the Sri Lankan tour.
Will Irfan’s absence cost India in Sri Lanka? Obviously, his absence would be clearly seen on screen. One obvious reason is that, most of the surfaces in Sri Lanka are on the slower side where pace variations become significant. Now tell me, in the announced squad that would tour Lanka, who has the ability to bowl off-cutters and leg-cutters under adverse situations? Nobody; the only exception being Zaheer Khan. Virtually, preponderance of the Indian bowlers can easily be taken for runs because they don’t know how to change the pace on a consistent basis. This is where, a bowler like Irfan would be handy as his variation in pace curbs the run-flow of an aggressive batsmen.
Ok, you may put in the picture that batsmen are scoring against him easily and why would you need Irfan Pathan. But, remember that his changed action has helped him a lot and in fact, this is the new Irfan we are seeing nowadays. For instance, when he was discarded from the squad in the 2008 Commonwealth Bank series, he virtually had a two-and-a-half year break. Lillee, former Australian pace-bowler changed Irfan to a new pace-bowler. He underwent some changes with his action which paid off. His arm was close to the body while delivering; as a result, he was able to generate good pace and was able to get extra bit of bounce. His fabulous show in the Ranji Trophy finally earned him a place in the ODI squad against West Indies. He was able to make the most of it as he bagged 3 wickets out of which couple of wickets came in his first spell.
Although he didn’t have an outstanding tour of Australia, the wickets picked up by him were under critical circumstances. So, regardless of his poor stats in the last few months, Irfan should have been selected for the Sri Lankan tour. Since he is not available for the Lankan series, who could play Irfan’s role with both bat and ball? Let us wait and watch.