Rohit Sharma's exclusion: A curious case of double standards in the selection process
The Indian selectors made some expected calls while naming the team for the West Indies home series. Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan's time ran out and their present form did justice to the selector's call of excluding them for the series.
Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal would fight for the opening slot. Vijay-Dhawan partnership had given some great moments in Test cricket in India, but the selectors felt the need to get players who can be groomed to perform well in overseas tours.
KL Rahul saved his place due to a blistering century in the final Test match. Mohammed Siraj was a new inclusion in the Test set-up. The decision which really had the media talking about it was Rohit Sharma's exclusion from the Test set-up. He has been ignored after the South Africa series, a series where only Virat Kohli performed up to the mark.
Rohit has an average of 40 in Test cricket, a luxury for many modern batsmen to have. But he has always been the scapegoat of India's performances in their overseas tours. One reason that makes Rohit's exclusion from Test Cricket sound normal is that his good performances on the flat tracks in ODI cricket. Is it a bad thing to score heavy runs in ODI cricket? Selectors need to answer that.
There was a time when batsmen used to get chances in Test cricket as their performance in other formats gave selectors the confidence that the guy can replicate the form in Test cricket. Sehwag is the best example. But in Rohit's case, the selectors have completely ignored him.
Now, much long ago, Rohit had scored 238 runs against New Zealand at an average of 80 and had presented his credentials as a Test Cricketer by helping the team with a crucial 82 at Kolkata. He scored 217 runs against the touring Sri Lankan side in 2017.
The fact that he is such a prolific batsman in ODI cricket is because Dhoni and the team management saw something in Rohit and gave him chance after chance even though he failed initially. His batting position was changed to get the best out of him.
Whether he gets the Test opener's slot is something that needs to be looked into. However, keeping him out of the team, on the whole, isn't something that can be justified by the national selectors.
There may be former cricketers who can talk about flaws in his technique but then even Virat Kohli had major flaws in his England tour of 2014. It's time MSK Prasad-led panel shows consistency in their decision making, something lacking in their decision to exclude Karun Nair too.