With the focus firmly on retaining the 50-over World Cup in 2015, Indian cricket seems to be making some bold moves.
In a bid to generate a pool of players who are likely to make the cut for the mega tournament to be held in Australia and New Zealand, Sandeep Patil’s selection committee has once again sent a clear message to veterans Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.
After being ignored for the recently-concluded Champions Trophy in England which India won, the Delhi duo could not even make the cut in the second string squad for the forthcoming five-match ODI series in Zimbabwe from July 24 to August 3.
Sehwag and Gambhir were not even included in the India ‘A’ side that will tour South Africa from August 8. Their exclusion clearly indicates that they are nowhere in contention for the much-awaited tour to the Rainbow nation later this year.
Kohli to lead India
While Virat Kohli will lead the Indian team in Zimbabwe in place of MS Dhoni, who is being rested, Cheteshwar Pujara will captain India ‘A’ in South Africa.
Patil, Roger Binny and Vikram Rathour met to pick the squads at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) headquarters in the city yesterday, and were joined by the other two selectors via teleconference, as they are with the team in the West Indies for the tri-series.
“Youngsters, who have been performing consistently, have been given preference over others for the Zimbabwe series. We have also given rest to some of the senior players,” said Sanjay Patel, secretary of the Indian board, after the two-hour meeting. Sticking to the youth policy seems to be working well for India at the moment.
Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma (promoted to the opening spot) have forged a successful partnership at the top, resulting in Sehwag and Gambhir not being missed.
The end for Sehwag?
While it certainly looks like the end of the road for Sehwag in the ODI set-up, Gambhir is slowly slipping in the same direction.
Gambhir has been left in the wilderness since the ODI series against England at home in January this year. Since then, the left-hander scored one century (for India ‘A’ against Australians) and two fifties in six matches for Delhi and Central Zone.
In the controversy-ridden Indian Premier League (IPL-VI), Gambhir leading from the front top-scored with 406 runs in 16 matches for Kolkata Knight Riders. He smashed four fifties, but he was far from convincing.
On the other hand, Sehwag, who last played for India in March this year, continued his poor run in the IPL-VI, scoring 295 in 13 matches for Delhi Daredevils. After being dropped from the national team, Sehwag scored 36 and four in two Syed Mushtaq Ali national T20 tournament for his state Delhi.
It would be foolhardy to write them off just yet considering the amount of cricket being played, but there is no doubt that Sehwag and Gambhir would be keenly waiting for the Ranji Trophy to kick off in order to get back into national reckoning.
Squad for Zimbabwe: Virat Kohli (captian), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Cheteshwar Pujara, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Parvez Rasool, Mohammad Shami, Vinay Kumar, Jaydev Unadkat, Mohit Sharma.