No logic in Champions Trophy selection: Vengsarkar

Former chief selector, Dilip Vengsarkar slammed the selection committee for dropping opener Gautam Gambhir for the next month’s Champions Trophy to be played in England.

Dilip Vengsarkar
Dilip Vengsarkar. Pic/Suresh KK

Sandeep Patil & Co took quite a few bold decisions by dropping Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh from the squad of 15. The five selectors, captain MS Dhoni and coach Duncan Fletcher met at the Cricket Centre to pick the team for the Champions Trophy. They also did not name Dhoni’s deputy. Virat Kohli was the team’s vice-captain for the last few series.

Vengsarkar, under whose tenure as chief selector, India scripted history by winning a Test series in England in 2007 for the first time since 1986 and came close to beating England in the ODI series too (losing 3-4), was baffled with the selection of some players. “Overall, this selection defies logic,” Vengsarkar told SUNDAY MiD DAY.

Sandeep Patil
Chief selector Sandeep Patil arrive at the Cricket Centre in Mumbai on Saturday. Pics/Suresh KK

“I am surprised Gambhir is dropped. We are playing in England and we need some experience. Any team you pick has to be a blend of youth and experience. He deserved to be there. We are taking two openers who don’t have enough experience of playing in England. It is a 50-over format and not Twenty20.”

Gambhir was overlooked for the Australia Test series too. The southpaw managed 127 runs in five ODIs against England and 34 against Pakistan in three matches. Shikhar Dhawan, who has played five ODIs with the last in June 2011, and Murali Vijay, who has played 11 one-dayers, will be the openers.

Mumbai’s Ajinkya Rahane, who scored 55 in four matches (against Pakistan and England series) was also not considered. “He deserved the axe. He has been around for some time.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni . Pics/Suresh KK

Others are doing well. When one gets an opportunity, he has to grab it, which he hasn’t. He has got talent, but that has to be transformed into performance. He has to deliver,” said Vengsarkar.

In-form Dinesh Karthik earned a recall after almost three years. He had a good first-class season, scoring 577 runs in eight matches for Tamil Nadu. He seemed to have carried his form to the IPL too with 331 runs in 10 games. Though Karthik will not keep wickets, he might have to contribute in fielding and bat in the middle-order.

In the bowling department, Umesh Yadav returned from injury while Irfan Pathan and R Vinay Kumar were recalled. Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been retained. Leggie Amit Mishra made it to the squad.

Vengsarkar said bowling is India’s weak link.  “I am disappointed with the bunch of medium-pacers picked. Apart from Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, I think Praveen Kumar should have been picked.

He can move the ball around and is very effective in English conditions. He has the experience of playing there as well.  “Bowling in the death overs has been a major concern for a long time now. We have an inexperienced line-up,” Vengsarkar concluded.

The squad
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain & wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Murali Vijay, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Irfan Pathan, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra and Vinay Kumar 

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