Krishnamachari Srikkanth & Co’s last selection meeting (a new selection panel is expected to be formed after the Board’s AGM in September) appeared to be quite an eventful one at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) headquarters in Mumbai yesterday.
The marathon meeting, which lasted nearly four hours, came up with some surprising inclusions for the forthcoming two-Test series against New Zealand starting August 23. The selectors also named the squad for the World T20 starting September 18 in Sri Lanka. The same squad will also play the two T20 internationals against Kiwis. “We wanted a very well balanced side and we had a long discussion. We had a discussion with the team management also. We have a team that can win the T20 World Cup again. We have a very good side,” explained Srikkanth.
The selectors have given Yuvraj Singh an opportunity to make a sterling comeback after recovering from the germ-cell cancer. Srikkanth lauded Yuvraj’s efforts to recover. “We are very happy that Yuvraj has been declared fit.
Yuvraj is a very crucial factor. If he gets going, he can win matches single-handedly. Don’t forget, he was the Man of the Series in the 2007 World T20. He was Man of the Series in the 2011 World Cup. He has fought his way back. We really appreciate the kind of efforts put in by Yuvraj. He is a crucial factor from the team’s point of view,” he said.
The biggest surprise element in the Test squad was the inclusion of leggie Piyush Chawla, who last played for India in the 2011 World Cup. Chawla, who is also in the limited overs squads, has claimed only 23 wickets in seven Ranji Trophy matches for Uttar Pradesh in the last season. Srikkanth, however, was in no mood to take any questions on Chawla.
Amit Mishra could have been a contender for the leg-spinner’s spot, but fitness issues may have gone against him. Rahul Sharma failed to grab opportunities in the recent Sri Lanka tour which came close on the heels of his poor show on the India A tour to West Indies. This may have prompted selectors to drop him. Out-of-form veteran VVS Laxman got a lifeline as he retained his place in the Test squad while Sachin Tendulkar returned to the team after a two-month break.
Southpaw Suresh Raina also made a comeback to the Test team after being dropped for the Test series against Australia earlier this year. Ishant Sharma, who has recovered from his ankle surgery, is back in the fold. Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane were rewarded for their fine performance on the India ‘A’ tour to West Indies.
Lakshmipathy Balaji and offie Harbhajan Singh. Balaji, who last played an international match in 2009, made a comeback in the limited overs squad. Harbhajan last played against England in the second Test in July-August before flying back home with an injury.
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