When the Sandeep Patil led selection committee sat down to name the probables for the ICC Champions Trophy in England from June 6-23, the one thing they had in mind was injecting the squad with a shot of youth and start building a team keeping in mind the 2015 World Cup. The team which is scheduled to head directly to England for the mega event after the conclusion of the current season of IPL, will have to recharge their batteries quickly and hope they get into the groove of international cricket as fast as possible. The event will surely be the first real test of the ‘No.1’ stature of Team India. Here is a dissection of the 30-man probables list:
End of the road for Viru?
Among the batsmen named in the probables list, the biggest exclusion is that of the Delhi opener. Currently suffering from a back spasm, his form and fitness have come under scathing criticism from a large section of fans and critics. Footwork and technique were never Sehwag’s forte. Impeccable hand-eye co-ordination and his ‘I am what I am’ attitude were what his game was based on. While the former quality diminished and the latter stayed firm, his game suffered.
Players like Sehwag breed on confidence and it is when its barometer runs low, that problems start arising. His ‘rift’ with captain MS Dhoni is also well known and this coupled with his woeful form of late might have led to his exclusion. Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan’s coming of age in the recently concluded Australian series could spell the end of Sehwag’s career as an Indian opener, although a certain section of critics have cited that he might be better suited in the middle order now. It might be rash to say that this is the end for him, but at 34 he sure does have the odds stacked against him.
Another exclusion which has caused an uproar of sorts on Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media is that of Cheteshwar Pujara. The major reason behind this could be his problematic knee, on which he suffered inflammation during the ongoing Test series and now needs recuperation. Pujara is all set to miss the IPL and he might have been granted an extended leave of absence keeping in mind the all important Test series against South Africa at the end of 2013.
Surprise entrants among the batsman include the swashbuckling Pune boy Kedhar Jadhav and victorious India U-19 World Cup captain Unmukt Chand, though it is difficult to see either of them making it to the eventual 15 man squad.
No Zak or Bhajji:
R Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashok Dinda, Umesh Yadav, Shami Ahmed, Vinay Kumar, Praveen Kumar.
Zaheer Khan was once again ignored by the selectors after putting up a mediocre display in the domestic circuit. His overall fitness has been a matter of intense debate over the past few months with many saying he is not fit to field at the highest standard throughout the fifty overs.
Harbhajan Singh, who played his 100th Test match for India against Australia in Chennai this February too did not make the cut after failing to impress the selectors. The wily off-spinner seems to have lost the knack of looping the ball and enticing the batsman into making errors, instead sticking with flatter trajectories in a bid to keep his economy look good, even if the wickets section appears bare.
The selection of the out-of-favour Amit Mishra ahead of him suggests the selectors have moved on, and the Turbonator will have to produce something special in the ongoing IPL as well as the domestic games to make them notice him again. The angry young man of Indian cricket Praveen Kumar too has made an unexpected return to the preliminary squad.
The other promising bowlers to miss out are paceman Varun Aaron – probably because he still isn’t fit from his back injury. Ashwin’s regular spin partner Pragyan Ojha and off-spinner Rahul Sharma are the other notable exclusions.
The keepers, the all-rounders and the new kids on the block:
MS Dhoni, Wriddhiman Saha, Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja, Jalaj Saxena, Parvez Rasool, Irfan Pathan, Ishwar Pandey, Siddarth Kaul.
In what has been a surprise of sorts, the selectors have named quite a lot of all-rounders with Irfan Pathan being the notable inclusion. The Baroda-born fast bowler will be thankful for this shot in the arm and should perform to his level best in the ongoing IPL if he is to get anywhere close to the final fifteen.
The most exciting part of these 30-man squad announcements is knowing which new talents have caught the eye of the selectors and will be in the running to be called out in the future. One of them is Siddharth Kaul – the young paceman came into the limelight with his superb performances during the U-19 World Cup, grabbing a total of 10 wickets at an excellent average of 15.40. The Punjab pacer who was the second highest wicket-taker this season in the Ranji, is joined by the highest wicket taker Ishwar Pandey, who has also made it to the probables for the first time.
Another man, who has been paid for his hard-work is MP all-rounder Jalaj Saxena. Saxena earned rave reviews for his all-round performance in this year’s Ranji and Duleep trophy. Experienced and firm in technique, Saxena could deputise well in the absence of Ravindra Jadeja. Tricky spinner Parvez Rasool from Jammu and Kashmir has also managed to earn a spot on the roster.
In the wicket-keepers section, the selectors have not made any surprises with Naman Ojha missing out and the usual trio of MS Dhoni, Wriddhiman Saha and Dinesh Karthik being named.