Sandeep Patil & Co’s thrust on hope rather than sheer domestic performance was the highlight of yesterday’s cricket selection. By keeping Virender Sehwag in the squad that lost to England last year, the selectors have indicated that they still back him to dominate the Australians. It must be noted that Sehwag did nothing spectacular apart from his hundred in the first Test against England.
The retaining of Murali Vijay was based on his first innings century against Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai in the Irani Cup although the choice of Shikhar Dhawan as one of the three openers in the squad cannot be termed as absurd. Mumbai’s Wasim Jaffer did enough to merit a comeback, but with him on the cusp of turning 35, the selectors probably thought he’s too old for the job. Vijay may go on and score heavily against Australia, but nothing can erase the fact that Jaffer had quality ammunition in his gun and age does not always have to be an over-riding factor.
Jaffer could have been just the kind of mentally strong opening batsman to combat the Aussie quicks. His inner strength came to the fore in the last few weeks in which he scored runs on a burning deck as it were, with thoughts of his terribly ill father, who ultimately passed away, playing on his mind.
Gautam Gambhir had the axe coming with him being unable to score a Test hundred in three years. Fair call! Harbhajan Singh must consider himself very fortunate since India’s spin cupboard is devoid of experienced hands. Picking a young spinner would have shown the adventurous side of the selectors, but they chose to be conservative and settle for Harbhajan’s experience and 81 Test wickets against Australia at home.
Ishant Sharma, Ashok Dinda and Bhuvneshwar Kumar form an exciting pace bunch, but this is a department which will probably come into play the least against an opposition that has feasted on pace bowling. Selections can never be universally accepted. In such a scenario, we’ll just have to wait and see whether the selectors attract censure or praise.