The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced the ODI squad for the upcoming tour of Australia yesterday.
Notable inclusions in the squad were Shubman Gill and Kuldeep Yadav, with KL Rahul serving as vice-captain in the absence of the injured Rohit Sharma. The entire 15-man squad can be found below:
ODI squad: Virat Kohli (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul (VC & wk), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur
There are always bound to be players on the wrong side of the selectors in a cut-throat cricketing country like India - the likes of Ambati Rayudu and Manoj Tiwary were perhaps treated a bit harshly in the recent past. Similarly, these 3 players can consider themselves unlucky to have not made India's ODI squad for the Australia tour.
#3 Prithvi Shaw
Prithvi Shaw's IPL 2020 campaign started off well with a Man of the Match award and a couple of enterprising knocks, but soon took a steep nosedive. The Delhi Capitals opener now finds himself out of the playing XI with Ajinkya Rahane preferred against him, and with 11 runs in his last 4 games, he has only himself to blame.
However, the fact that Shaw has been included in the Test squad and not the ODI squad is baffling. The biggest reason behind his failures in the IPL has been his lack of footwork and inability to deal with quality pace bowling early on in his innings, and there's no doubt that Test cricket in the most technique-intensive format of the game.
The other openers - Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul - find places in all three Indian squads, but Shaw won't be donning coloured clothing anytime soon. The selectors may have decided to include the Mumbai batsman on the basis of his backfoot-dominant play, but he has struggled when the short ball has been aimed at his body.
Surely the limited-overs formats would be a better bet for someone who was ruled out of India's previous tour of Australia due to an injury suffered in a warm-up game and has no previous Test experience in the country.
#2 Ravichandran Ashwin
While Ravichandran Ashwin hasn't been in the scheme of things in white-ball cricket for some time now (he last played ODIs and T20Is in 2017), he still is one of the best spinners in the country.
There's no reason why Ashwin can't play ODIs for India. With 150 wickets in 111 games, he was an integral part of the team's victories in the 2011 World Cup and the 2013 Champions Trophy. The off-spinner would also add variety to the Men in Blue's bowling attack in an age where very few bowlers of his kind ply their trade in white-ball cricket.
Ashwin has a number of variations, is unerringly consistent, and has the ability to pick up wickets regularly. Apart from these obvious qualities, the 34-year-old has been one of the best performers in this year's IPL and has form in his favour.
A criticism that has been levelled at him is that he is not the sprightliest fielders, but there are no two ways about the fact that he would make up for his deficiencies in the field with the ball in hand.
#1 Rishabh Pant
Perhaps the feature of India's ODI squad for the Australia tour that stands out the most, the selectors have not named a reserve wicket-keeper. The Test and ODI formats have at least two keepers each, but the panel seems to believe that KL Rahul has what it takes to don the gloves at the international level.
But the Kings XI Punjab will also have to open the batting in the absence of Rohit Sharma, and the combination of facing the new ball and keeping wickets is something that very few players have managed over the years. Add to this the fact that Rahul is the vice-captain of the side and you have a highly overworked cricketer, even for someone of his standards and fitness.
Now that we've established that India should've chosen a back-up for Rahul, it's clear that Rishabh Pant was the best choice - if for lack of alternatives more than anything else. The 23-year-old may not have lit up the international stage like has done in the IPL in the past, but India simply don't have much luxury in the wicket-keeping department post the retirement of MS Dhoni.
Sanju Samson has been highly inconsistent in every form of cricket, while Ishan Kishan is still being blooded for the role. Dinesh Karthik's nightmare IPL campaign has put to rest any talks of a comeback to the Indian team, while Test keeper Wriddhiman Saha is nowhere in the picture in the limited-overs formats.
Rishabh Pant should've been backed by the selectors, even more so because Ravindra Jadeja is the only left-hander in the middle order.
Published 27 Oct 2020, 16:00 IST